A mysterious illness that causes people to vomit blood within hours before some die has struck at least 15 people and left dozens in need of treatment.
The unidentified bug, which is spreading in the Mbeya region of southern Tanzania, has resulted in over 50 people being hospitalized.
However, the disease, which can also cause nausea, is unlikely to become a widespread outbreak, and men appear to be the worst hit, according to health officials.
They also test local water for possible mercury contamination.
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Felista Kisandu, chief medical officer of the Chunya rural district in Mbeya, said specialists have moved to the area and are examining patients.
“This problem wasn’t widespread,” she said on Saturday.
“It happened in just one administrative department of Ifumbo, where people vomit blood and die when they get to the hospital late.
“The cause of her illness is not yet known, but the Tanzanian Ministry of Health has ruled out an outbreak.”
She continued, “Initial clinical examinations showed that the patients, mostly men, had gastric ulcers and liver diseases.
“We advised them to avoid illegal brewing, smoking cigarettes and other hard drinks.”
Dr. However, Kisandu was suspended because of her comments as they were classified as “unnecessary panic”.
Health Minister Dorothy Gwajika said, “In order to create unnecessary panic among residents, I order Dr. Felista Kisandu’s employer to suspend them, pave the way for medical council investigations and give me the report within ten days.”
The minister urged locals to keep calm and said more updates would come soon.
Similar symptoms occurred in the region in 2018. Patients suffered from high fever, nausea and vomiting blood, government officials said.