At least five persons who fell ill to a strange disease believed to be Yellow Fever have died in a single day in Owukpa, Benue state.
Earlier, the death of 17 persons, and with the latest that has sent the community into panic, the figure has now risen to 22 deaths in less than a month.
Recently, the Benue State Government sent a team of health experts to the state on a fact-finding mission to determine the cause of illness and deaths. Following the outcome of the investigation, an intervention team was sent to the affected communities in Owukpa and Otukpa where the people were vaccinated against Yellow Fever.
The team was led by a renowned Epidemiologist and consultant, Prof Stephen Abah.
But despite the vaccination exercise, more deaths have been recorded, creating the doubt that the disease is Yellow Fever, as some community leaders believe there are forces behind the strange disease and deaths and cannot be linked to orthodox medicine.
On Thursday, the 27th of November 2020, about 3 persons died from the strange illness and have been laid to rest. No fewer than two bodies believed to have died from the ailment were equally conveyed to Owukpa as at Friday afternoon.
According to a community leader who pleaded not to be mentioned in print, the atmosphere in Owukpa right now is characterized by fear, frustration and mourning. Who will bury who right now? It’s getting to a point of all man to himself. We are tired,’’ he lamented.
Newsmen spoke to many residents of Owukpa and the mood was the same. The people are now apprehensive over who is next on the line as the disease continues to penetrate villages. No fewer than 30 people are currently on admission across ill-equipped private hospitals in Otukpa, the Ogbadibo headquarters.
Mostly worried are young people as 70 to 80 percent of the victims of the strange disease are youths. Some health experts contacted have questioned why older people with weak immune system are spared, while the disease hit young people with stronger immune system.
Recall that the Honourable member representing Itabono ward 1 in Ogbadibo Local Govt Area of Benue State, Hon. Patrick Ejeh, also known as Pataba had earlier raised the alarm over the outbreak of the epidemic.
Owukpa community cannot boast of a single hospital or health centres. In the entire district, no single functional hospital is standing, no government hospital and no standard health centres are found around. Avoidable deaths are common in Owukpa as people often die of minor illnesses, unless they are taken to far away Okpoga or Otukpa for treatment. This has become a major concern to well-meaning indegines of the community on how the people can survive this epidemic with no functional hospital for even emergency treatment.