Mysterious illness claims 17th victim

PANAMA CITY - The death toll from a mystery illness in Panama has risen to at least 17, with 10 others recovering from fever, diarrhoea and partial paralysis, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

Doctors do not know the cause, but say the disease progresses rapidly to the renal system and causes neurological damage.

Two more people suffering from the unidentified illness died yesterday, Health Minister Camilo Alleyne said.

He also raised the number of people fighting the mystery disease to 10 from seven.

Up to Wednesday the disease had killed 15 over the past month, the ministry said.

It declared a national epidemic alert on Wednesday.

The dead were all more than 60 years old and most were already suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems.

The illness does not seem to be contagious. Dengue fever, influenza, West Nile virus and other illnesses have been ruled out.

- REUTERS

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