The investigation of an outbreak of unknown origin in Angola has revealed extremely high levels of bromide in plasma sampled from several affected patients.
As of 19 November 2007, over 390 cases had been identified and treated at the Municipal Hospital in Cacuaco. About 64% of those affected are children below 15 years old.
Toxicological tests carried out in Munich, Germany, detected very high levels of bromide in 5 out of 6 plasma samples taken from affected patients. Bromide intoxication has been one of the working hypotheses being explored by WHO and partners as a cause of the outbreak.
The laboratory results provide an important focus for testing on human, environmental and food samples to confirm these bromide levels. Additional samples are currently on the way to a laboratory in the UK for testing for bromides.
On Wednesday 21 November WHO deployed further technical and operational support to assist Angolan health authorities, including a field coordinator, clinician, two epidemiologists, food safety expert, laboratory specialist, and a logistician. This team will support further epidemiological studies, case management, social mobilization and risk communication, environmental investigations and laboratory testing to confirm the cause of the outbreak, and to support response and control measures. ( WHO )