Disease not linked to Covid-19, says the country's health minister
More than 300 Senegalese fishermen have contracted a mysterious skin ailment after returning from sea, according to the country's health minister.
Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said on Thursday: "In the past two days we have seen an illness appear around Thiaroye that affects fishermen who have been at sea, and who often have lesions."
Senegalese media showed pictures of fishermen who work from the Thiaroye port south of Dakar afflicted with lesions on their face and limbs.
"To date, we have identified more than 300 cases, and identification continues as fishermen return from the sea," Sarr said.
"Among these cases are 18 who were hospitalized and others who are being treated at specialist centres," he added.
France's Pasteur Institute and the Senegalese health ministry's anti-poison centre have been asked to analyze possible causes, the minister said.
"We can say today that this is not linked to the Covid-19 epidemic because Covid-19 tests are negative, nor have we detected the presence of other viruses, which naturally makes us think of a toxic origin," Sarr said.
Senegal's environmental service will analyse the sea water, he added.
The minister hastened to add that "there is no suspicion" of the disease being contagious, because "only fishermen coming back from the sea are hit" and it has not spread among their families.