Environmental health in emergencies

Angola: Mass Bromide Poisoning
21 March 2008

An outbreak of acute neurological disease of unknown origin occurred in Cacuaco municipality, Luanda Province, Angola from October to December 2007. Symptoms included drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, weakness and difficulties in speaking and walking.

Following the Angolan Ministry of Health (MINSA)'s request for support, WHO Country Office conducted initial investigations on 24 October and 30 October. Symptoms observed suggested that the disease might be of toxic origin but the exact cause could not be identified.

On 30 October 2007, WR Angola requested support from WHO Headquarters (HQ) and Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) to investigate this outbreak. On 2 November, WHO HQ and AFRO deployed an investigation team, the purpose of the mission was: (i) to assist MINSA in investigating the possible toxic/chemical cause of the outbreak, (ii) to support toxicological, clinical, epidemiological, environmental and analytical investigations, and (iii) to make recommendations on diagnosis, treatment, surveillance and risk management and mitigation.

Please find below the executive summary of the mission. A full mission report will be available soon.