Seven people in Chemba and Kondoa districts have succumbed to a strange disease as of Saturday last week while 21 others have been quarantined at the Kondoa District Hospital and Dodoma Regional Referral Hospital.
Ms Ummy Mwalimu, Tanzania’s Minister for Health, Social Development, Gender, Elderly and Children said blood samples from the victims are now being tested so as to identify the nature and cause of the strange disease, with the results expected between today (Monday) and tomorrow Tuesday.
The minister said the admitted patients are positively responding to treatment except two children whose conditions are in critical. Contrary to unverified reports circulating in the social media, Ms Mwalimu ruled out the possibility of anthrax as patients have not shown signs of the deadly disease.
She said that the ministry was waiting for further results from the Chief Government Chemist on Tuesday (tomorrow). “So far, much as the patients are isolated, we are highly confident that the diease is not contagious,” she assured Tanzanians.
According to the minister,the disease could be linked to Aflatoxins; a group of toxic compounds that are produced by some types of moulds found in food, which can lead to damage of the liver and cancer.
Poor food crops preservation is the highest cause of Aflatoxins. The minister further explained that samples of cereals, including sorghum, maize and millet, have been submitted to the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and the Chief Government Chemist for testing and the results of the laboratory tests expected very soon.
She added that the government is working very hard to bring the disease under control by engaging various stakeholders including the United States Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
The mysterious disease was first detected on June 13 in Chemba District where it has affected a family of nine people in Mwaikisabe Village before it spread out to neighboring areas.