LAGOS - A ‘mysterious’ disease that kills patients within 24 hours has claimed at least 17 lives in a southeastern Nigerian town, the government said Saturday. ‘Seventeen people have died of the mysterious disease since it broke out early this week in Ode-Irele town,’ the government spokesman for Ondo state, Kayode Akinmade, told AFP by telephone. The disease, whose symptoms include headache, weight loss, blurred vision and loss of consciousness, killed the victims within 24 hours of their falling ill, he said.

Laboratory tests have so far ruled out Ebola or any other virus, Akinmade added. The World Health Organization said it had information on 14 cases with at least 12 dead. ‘Common symptoms were sudden blurred vision, headache, loss of consciousness followed by death, occurring within 24 hours,’ spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP in an email.

Akinmade said health officials and experts from the government and aid agencies, as well as WHO epidemiologists, have arrived in Ode-Irele. ‘Outside a total of 17 deaths recorded, in the past 72 hours we have not recorded new cases. There is no patient of the disease in any hospital and the disease has not spread beyond the town,’ he said. Jasarevic said blood and urine samples had been taken from two victims and cerebrospinal fluid from another. ‘All samples have been sent to Lagos University Teaching Hospital this morning, and results are still pending. Investigations are still ongoing,’ he said. Moreover, In the green hills of southeastern Sicily, the Don Bosco Oasis hotel is turning tourists away this season.

Instead, it has taken in 112 African migrants, survivors of the kind of risky, clandestine crossing of the Mediterranean which has cost at least 900 people their lives this year alone. Across southern Italy, where the bulk of migrants seeking a better life first set foot in Europe, an unprecendented influx has filled the usual processing centres. The interior ministry has had to turn to hotels and other residential structures to take them in.

For 29 euros ($31) per person per day, the hotel Oasis Don Bosco responded to the call and prepared its rooms for the influx: each has three beds and a bathroom, with a small balcony. Construction has begun to expand the hotel's capacity to 200 beds. The premises include a big recreation hall, a little classroom for Italian lessons and a football pitch.

For security reasons the huge pool has been fenced off and will be drained. The latest batch of migrants, who arrived late Thursday in the nearby port of Augusta, spent their first night in Europe in tents. ‘Hi, I'm Ciccio,’ says Francesco Magnano, the director of the centre. ‘I'm here to give you dignity, something to drink and eat, a bed to sleep in, and honour.’