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Nigeria''s Lead Poison Outbreak Kills 111 Children

June 09, 2010
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An outbreak of lead poisoning linked to illegal gold mining that left more 160 people dead in Nigeria is unprecedented, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said reported by the Associated Press. More than 100 of those killed in the poisoning in recent weeks are children aged five years or under. Nigerian health authorities last month roped in the CDC, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), to help control the epidemic, which the government said started in January. Nigerian health epidemiologists last week reported 111 toddler deaths out of the 163 lives lost. The epidemic has hit five villages in Nigeria''s northwest Zamfara State in recent weeks, affecting more than 300 people. The poisonings were caused by the illegal extraction of ore by villagers, who would transport crushed rock home from the mines. They would then extract the gold and haphazardly dispose of the soil containing lead deposits, which children would play with. Junior health minister Suleiman Bello on Monday said the outbreak had been brought under control. CDC assisted with "surveying the population about the deaths of children," as well as collection and analysis of blood and soil samples. It also helped with the environmental cleanup.

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