Contrary to speculations that over 30 persons have died from the strange disease that hit Ayadi and Ode-Irele towns in Irele Local Government Area of Ondo State, the state government at the weekend said the total number of deaths recorded was 23.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dayo Adeyanju, who disclosed this to journalists at a news conference at the weekend, said the additional five lives lost were not new cases or among those that were hospitalised.
However, Adeyanju, who was supported by other top officials of the ministry and that of the Ministry of Information, said two of those that were hospitalised had regained their sight and had returned home, while the monitoring continues.
He said the five death in addition to the 18 that were reported earlier, were those whose families came to report through the sensitisation efforts of government and other stakeholders after the outcome of the preliminary investigations, which revealed that victims developed ailment after consuming local gin popularly called ogogoro with methanol poison.
The commissioner said one of those that had regained his sight said he did not take much of the drink but only a sip. “Our clinical analysis reveals the fact that there were no known viruses, while toxicology reports have confirmed our prime suspicion of methanol poisoning.”
Adeyanju said the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) report on the five samples taken, showed that the victims had 16.3 per cent of the poisoned substance in their system.
He said having discovered the cause of the ailment to be methanol poison, the government had banned production, sale and consumption of the locally brew gin (ogogoro) in the state. The commissioner said the government and other stakeholders would embark on sensitisation programme on the policy and any person or group of persons that contravened the policy would be prosecuted.
“We have reviewed our strategies and embarked on sensitisation to let people know that locally-made gin is prohibited. We will also embark on searches because this batch of methanol-containing gin must have gone round because four cases were discovered outside Irele,” he said.
The commissioner said of the four cases found at Odigbo Local Government Area, two had died while two were still alive.
He said until the health authorities are able to get to the source of the methanol contamination, the production, sale and consumption of the locally brewed gin is banned in Ondo State because the government does not know how far the product had circulated and because many people relied on the gin from the area.
Adeyanju said stakeholders such as religious leaders, transporters, youths, market women, and the relevant association would be informed of the development.
“The sensitisation would be throughout the state. We will start with the entire south senatorial district, then move to the central and then the northern senatorial district. We appeal to the general public to desist from drinking the gin until we are able to identify the source of contamination or find out how the methanol got into the drinks,“ he said.
The commissioner said the state government was working closely with the NAFDAC and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitise members of the public on the dangers of consuming such drinks.He urged the people to stop the aspect of the insinuation that the disease came as a result of the defilement of the god of the community, Malokun.
Published: 27 Apr 2015. By James Sowole
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