Contrary to speculations that over 30 persons have died from the strange disease that afflicted Ayadi and Ode-Irele towns in Irele Local
Government Area of Ondo State, the state government at the weekend said the total number of deaths recorded is 23.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Dayo Adeyanju, who disclosed this to journalists at a news conference, then announced the bqn of the local gin popularly called ogogoro which has been identified as the cause. He said the additional five lives lost were not new cases but among those that were hospitalised.
However, Adeyanju, who was supported by other top officials of the ministry and the Ministry of Information, said two of those
that were hospitalised had regained their sight and had returned home while the monitoring still continues.
He said the five deaths in addition to the 18 that were reported earlier, were those whose families came to report through the sensitisation efforts of government and other stakeholders after the outcome of the preliminary investigations, which revealed that victims developed the ailment after consuming local gin popularly called ogogoro with methanol poison.
The commissioner said one of those that had regained his sight said he did not take much of the drink but only a sip. “Our clinical analysis reveals the fact that there were no known viruses, while toxicology reports have confirmed our prime suspicion
of methanol poisoning. Adeyanju said the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC’s) report on the five samples taken showed that victims
had 16.3 per cent of the poisoned substance in their system.
He said having discovered the cause of the ailment to be methanol poison, the government had banned production, sale and consumption of
the locally brew gin, ‘ogogoro’ in the state. The commissioner said the government and other stakeholders would embark on sensitisation programme on this policy and any person or group of persons that contravened the policy would be prosecuted. “We have reviewed our strategies and embarked on sensitisation to let people know that locally made gin is prohibited. We will also embark on searches because this batch of methanol-containing gin must have gone round because four cases were discovered outside Irele”, he said.
The commissioner said of the four cases found at Odigbo Local Government Area, two had died while two were still alive. He said until the health authorities are able to get to the source of the methanol contamination, the production, sale and consumption of
the locally brewed gin is banned in Ondo State because the government did not know how far the product had circulated and because many people relied on the gin from the area.