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World Health Organization investigates mystery illness that has reportedly killed almost 100 people in Sudan

Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP via Getty Images

Investigators from the World Health Organization are investigating an outbreak of an as-yet-unknown illness that has reportedly killed almost 100 people in southern Sudan in Africa, according to ABC News. The symptoms of the illness reportedly include cough, diarrhea, fever, headache, chest pain, joint pain, loss of appetite and body weakness, and thus far none of the patients who have contracted the symptoms have tested positive for any known disease.

The deaths have flummoxed health department officials in Sudan, which is also dealing with massive flooding that has wrought considerable devastation in the area. Indeed, the flooding has been so severe that the team of researchers from WHO had to be brought into the area via helicopter. The WHO team reportedly has already ruled out cholera, which would normally be the first suspect in an area devastated by flooding, as the potential cause of the illnesses.

According to ABC News, most of those who have died thus far have either been very elderly or very young. The BBC reports that the WHO began investigating the outbreak as early as November, but only recently sent a team onto the ground to collect samples.

A local government official told ABC news that the WHO team left the area on Wednesday, but did not communicate their findings to local officials.

The area of Sudan where the outbreak has occurred is the site of frequent sectarian conflict, flooding, and malnutrition, making it an ideal breeding ground for infectious diseases. Other than indicating that the water in the area has tested negative for cholera, the World Health Organization has not indicated any belief as to what the illness in question might be, or how it might be transmitted.

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