Food eaten by high school girls in Mukumu contained fresh faeces, the health ministry said.
Director General of Health Patrick Amoth disclosed in a press release on Friday.
“The ministry would like to inform the general public that this disease is likely to be a combination of E. coli and Salmonella typhi that occurs when water sources are contaminated with these germs,” he said.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacterium that is commonly found in the small intestine of warm-blooded animals and can cause food poisoning.
Salmonella enterica typhi is a gram-negative bacterium responsible for typhoid fever.
Amoth added that other laboratory tests carried out on cereals and pulses for aflatoxin were negative for aflatoxicosis.
“Laboratory tests for viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF), including Ebola virus disease (EVD), Marburg virus disease (MVD), leptospirosis and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), dengue, Rift Valley fever (RVF) and West Nile virus all come back negative,” he said.
“The Ministry is conducting further analysis of these samples to determine any other causes of this disease, and will report the results of these tests.”
Amoth added that the disease is accompanied by fever, abdominal pain/cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.
He said a detailed investigation is ongoing, but the data analyzed so far shows that the disease appears to have started on March 1, 2023.
The DG said that as of April 14, 627 patients fell ill while 19 students were hospitalized in seven health centers across the country.
He said that those admitted are doing well.
Amoth added that four patients have died from the disease. The four include three students and a teacher at Mukumu Girls’ School.
“At the Ministry of Health, we send our deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones,” he said.
He said both schools have been closed while further investigations are underway.