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Mystery after 500 fishermen hit by unknown skin disease after returning from sea

More than 500 fishermen have been hit by a mysterious skin disease after returning from sea.

The workers contracted the strange infectious condition in the west African country of Senegal once they were back on dry land.

They were left with lesions on their face and, in some cases, on their genitals.

The fishermen, who come from several fishing towns around the capital Dakar, have been placed in quarantine for treatment.

A first case was reported a week ago.

Images shared on social media showed men with swollen and blistered lips and large pimples on their hands.

Officials have been left scratching their heads over what has caused it.

A senior government health official in the country confirmed the puzzling situation on Thursday.

Ousmane Gueye, national director of health information and education, said: "It's a dermatitis associated with an infectious disease.

"We are checking further and hope to find out soon what it is."

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The Senegalese navy will be sent to take water samples for analysis.

A ministry of health report dated on November 17 said the men had "lesions on their faces, extremities and for some, on their genitals".

The document stated that the men were also experiencing headaches and showing slightly elevated temperatures.

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A preliminary investigation found the first case was reported on November 12, involving a 20-year-old fisherman.

He showed symptoms that included non-generalised vesicular rash, swelling of the face, dry lips and redness of the eyes.

The outbreak of the disease is reported to have caused anxiety among health officials.

It originates from toxic products which have been dumped on the coast by an unidentified boat between the cities Dakar and Mbour, according to reports.

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