At least 15 people have died and more than 50 others hospitalized in Tanzania from a terrifying mystery illness that causes patients to vomit blood, according to reports.
Some of the patients, mostly male, died within hours of developing symptoms in the southern Mbeya region of the country, the Sun reported.
Felista Kisandu, the local chief medical officer, said a team of experts have been dispatched to assess the patients and investigate the cause of their illness.
“This problem has not been widespread,” Kisandu said. “It has happened in just a single administrative ward of Ifumbo where people vomit blood and die when they get to the hospital late.”
She said the cause of their illness has not yet been identified but that the Tanzanian Health Ministry “has ruled out an outbreak,” according to the outlet.
“Initial clinical examinations revealed the patients, mostly men, suffered from stomach ulcers and liver disease,” Kisandu said. “We have advised them to avoid drinking illicit brew, smoking cigarettes and other hard drinks.”
Authorities were testing water samples and patients’ blood for traces of mercury contamination.
Meanwhile, Tanzania’s Health Minister Dorothy Gwajika ordered Kisandu’s suspension after she made her remarks.
“For creating unnecessary panic among residents, I order Dr. Felista Kisandu’s employer to suspend her in order to pave way for investigations by the Medical Council and submit the report to me within 10 days,” Gwajika said.
Government officials said similar symptoms emerged in the area when people suffered from high fever and nausea and vomited blood in 2018, according to the Sun.
News of the mystery ailment comes about a month after President John Magufuli claimed COVID-19 had been stopped in its tracks — by the power of prayer.
“Corona in our country has been removed by the powers of God,” he said Jan. 9, six weeks after the government stopped publicly updating virus data.
The number of cases has remained at 509 for six weeks, though opposition figures estimate that the actual numbers could be in the tens of thousands.
The population has been urged to consume herbal remedies in a bid to fight the deadly bug by boosting immunity.