Lawmaker faults result of lab test on Ondo strange disease victims
A claim by the Ondo State government that the strange deaths recorded in Irele Local Government recently was caused by methanol poison has elicited criticism from the representative of the community in the House of Assembly, Afolabi Iwalewa, who described it as a ruse.
The toxicological report has led to the state government banning the production and consumption of the popular local gin known as ogogoro, claiming it was partly responsible for the strange deaths.
The lawmaker representing Irele Constituency, Iwalewa, who is a native of the affected community, told the House of Assembly that the cause of the deaths was spiritual rather than whatever the medical and scientific finding by the state government, international community and other stakeholders in the health sector.
The lawmaker told his colleagues that despite the initial ban on the sale of the local gin in the area and the subsequent prohibition of the substance across the 18 local councils, his kinsmen were still drinking the outlawed commodity.
He informed the House that the deaths, which he described as “Malokunjaitis” has abated after the natives took spiritual measures to solve the spiritual problem in manners peculiar to their customs and tradition.
The two-week loss of lives referred to as ‘Irele Outbreak’ or ‘Ondo-X’ by the state government compelled the toxicological test which was said to have attributed the strange deaths to high concentration of methanol poison allegedly consumed by the victims.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dayo Adeyanju, told journalists at the weekend that the result of the toxicological test sent to Lagos confirmed their earlier assumption when the ministry led a contingent of medical team to interact with relatives of the victims the penultimate Saturday. According to Adeyanju, the result of the five samples sent to NASCAR laboratory gave no viral infection but established high concentration of methanol poison in the locally brewed gin, “Ogogoro” said to have been consumed by some of the victims. One of the samples was said to have contained 16.2 concentration of the poison.
“This is to inform the general public that the current disease outbreak in Irele Local Government Area has been traced to the consumption of local gin (ogogoro) that is contaminated with methanol,” Adeyanju said.
The toll of affected persons with noticeable symptoms such as headache, blurring of vision, sudden blindness, loss of consciousness and sudden death, has increased to 23 deaths and 10 survivors responding to treatment in the General Hospital, Irele and University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan respectively.
Adeyanju informed journalists that two of the survivors who initially lost their sight have regained them, while others are responding to treatment.
He said Governor Olusegun Mimiko would make a broadcast prohibiting the sale of the local gin in the state and discourage the association of local brewers to stop production till the deadly substance is stamped out from circulation.
He confirmed the initial report from the Chairman, Caretaker Committee for the local government, Dele Olatunji, who told The Guardian that he got a directive prohibiting the production and consumption of ogogoro in the area earlier last week, but now extended throughout the state.