WHO, the World Health Organization, is investigating an unidentified disease that has broken out in South Sudan. In this landlocked East African state, stuck in particular between Ethiopia and the Central African Republic, this mysterious disease is, according to the authorities, already the cause of 97 deaths.
The victims are all from Fangak, in the state of Jonglei, located in the north of the country, in the grip of severe flooding.
The symptoms most often observed are various: diarrhea, fever, headache, cough, loss of appetite, weakness and joint pain, especially in the chest.
Fangak State Commissioner Biel Boutros Biel told ABC News on December 23 that the latest death attributed to the mysterious illness was in an elderly woman.
Seniors are indeed among the most numerous victims, but children aged 1 to 14, have also died, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health of South Sudan relayed by the American news channel.
WHO medical experts went to the scene to try to figure out what it was. Biel Boutros Biel, however, said they have since left, without delivering their findings to local authorities.
Floods “perfect” for epidemics
In a statement to ABC News, Collins Boakye-Agyemang, spokesperson for WHO Africa, said the agency began investigating the outbreak in November, but without providing further details.
The British channel BBC News meanwhile claimed that as the region has recently been affected by heavy flooding, the WHO has tested samples of infected patients to find out whether they had died of cholera.
This infectious disease is in fact generally contracted by the ingestion of contaminated food or water. However, according to BBC News, the samples came back negative for this bacterial infection.
In a statement released last November, the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières described the ongoing flooding in South Sudan as a “perfect storm” for epidemics.
A qualifier which, at a time of global warming and in the midst of a global pandemic due to Covid-19, would almost take on the air of prophecy.