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Tanzania identifies mysterious deadly illness as 'rat fever'

Tanzania identifies mysterious deadly illness as 'rat fever'
A giant African pocket rat sniffs out traces of landmine explosives at APOPO's training center in Morogoro, June 17, 2016.   -  
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CARL DE SOUZA/AFP or licensors


Tanzania announced Monday that it had identified the mysterious disease, which caused the death of three people in the southeast of the country. Leptospirosis, a bacterial disease carried by rodents and often benign to humans except from kidney failure cases, killed the victims.Last week, Tanzanian authorities dispatched a team of doctors and experts to investigate the disease in the Lindi region, where 20 cases have been detected.

Visiting the region, Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said Monday that the disease was caused by a bacterium excreted by wild animals, such as rats or foxes, and transmitted through water or food contaminated by the urine of these animals.

"The good thing is that this disease is preventable and can be cured," the minister explained, calling on the population to remain calm. Most patients have recovered from the disease, whose symptoms include nosebleeds, fever, headaches and fatigue. Two remain in isolation, she said.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on July 12 that the "strange" disease could have been caused by "increasing interactions" between humans and animals due to environmental degradation.

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