Seven children die of mystery illness after eating the same batch of porridge

Three children have died and a further 59 people are in hospital following an outbreak of a mystery illness in West Africa.

Initial blame for the mysterious outbreak has been contaminated corn porridge, after all those who died were said to have eaten the batch hours before.

The death occurred on Sunday, September 17 in a village near Bouaké in Ivory Coast – with the youngest thought to be just three-years-old.

A further 59 people were brought to hospitals with a disease of unknown origin, according to hospital officials and local sources who spoke to AFP on Monday.

According to a hospital source, five of the fatalities died at Bouaké hospital, while the remaining two died in Niangban, a community about 30 km to the south.

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The victims are reported to be “mainly children and some adolescents” while the main symptoms of the disease are said to be “vomiting” and “diarrhoea”.

Emmanuel Kouamé N’Guessan, Niangban village chief, is reported to have confirmed that those who died were aged between five and twelve.

The mother of the first fatality, Zitanick Amoin Yao, stated that she had purchased porridge and given it to her son.

She said: “He started vomiting when I gave him the medicine they gave me at Djébonouan hospital.

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“We went back to the hospital and they told us to go to the university hospital in Bouaké, where he died at the age of three.”

In February, two people were sentenced to five years in prison in the vicinity of Bouaké, specifically in the village of Kpo-Kahankro, for their involvement in the sale of porridge contaminated with clostridium.

The bacterium, according to an official report, killed 16 people, though villagers claim the true death toll stands at 21.

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