Tragedy struck a village in central Ivory Coast near Bouaké on Sunday, with seven lives lost and 59 others hospitalised due to an illness of unknown origin. This was reported by the hospital and local sources on Monday, who raised concerns about this alarming situation.
Of the seven fatalities, five individuals succumbed to the illness at Bouaké University Hospital, while two tragically passed away in Niangban, a village located approximately 30 kilometres south, according to a hospital insider.
Bouaké University Hospital is currently treating 59 patients, primarily children and some adolescents, who are displaying common symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
Emmanuel Kouamé N’Guessan, the village chief of Niangban, confirmed that the deceased were children aged between 5 and 12 years old. He also reported that approximately 50 villagers from Niangban sought medical attention at Bouaké University Hospital. The alarm was first raised by a nurse’s aide on Sunday when several children fell seriously ill.
A close aide to the chief mentioned that rumours circulating in the village pointed to maize porridge as a possible source of contamination.
The mother of the first victim recounted purchasing porridge and giving it to her son. Shortly after consumption, he urgently needed the toilet and began vomiting. Despite seeking medical help at Djébonouan Hospital, they were directed to Bouaké University Hospital, where tragically, the three-year-old child passed away.
The grieving mother stated that she would be not placing blame on the porridge seller as her children had also consumed the same porridge on that fateful Sunday, adding to the growing concern among villagers.
This incident draws unsettling parallels with a similar event in February in Kpo-Kahankro village, where two individuals were sentenced to five years in prison for contaminating food linked to 16 deaths, though villagers claimed the toll was as high as 21 lives lost.