The commissioner for health in the state, Dr Dayo Adeyanju confirmed the disease has claimed 17 lives but debunked claims of the illness being a punishment by the gods on all those who looted the Malokun shrine and stole precious artifacts which only the chief priest should see. He said the claim cannot be scientifically proven.
A common link established between 4 of the victims was a visit to an unnamed bar for a drink, suggestive that ethanol ingestion may be involved. The disease has also been linked with the exhumation of a corpse in the community.
A ruler in the community said after the looting of the shrine, a ritual was carried out to invoke the gods to visit the perpetrators with a strange ailment.
The surviving victims remain blind and deny ever stealing from the shrine. A victim, Sola Olatuja said his symptoms started with abdominal pain and his legs started 'shaking'- he felt it was an attack.
Also, the victims look nothing like the pictures being circulated on the internet- no lumps and bumps.
It is believed that some other persons are sick at home but afraid of seeking treatment because of the associated stigma of stealing from the shrine.
Despite the serious ailment in the town, there has been no change nor limitations in the daily activities of the indigenes - it's business as usual.
The results of the samples taken from the affected people are still being awaited even as the origin and type of the disease remains unclear. So far the samples were negative for Ebola, Lassa fever, Dengue fever, Rift valley fever virus, West Nile virus and Yellow fever virus.
In many parts of Nigeria, people believe strongly in the powers of gods and goddesses and this case is one of such where 'vengeful' gods turn their wrath on guilty people. Hence, many of those who feel they have not offended the gods feel 'safe' from their wrath.
One thing is certain in spite of all the speculations: the disease is new to Nigeria and very strange indeed- I hope a scientific explanation is given soon.