Nigeria said Monday it has contained an outbreak of lead poisoning linked to illegal gold mining in northern Nigeria that has left 163 dead, including more than 100 children.
"The outbreak is now under control and there is no need for the general public to panic," junior health minister Suleiman Bello told reporters.
A lead poisoning epidemic has hit five villages in Nigeria's northwest Zamfara State in recent weeks, affecting 226 children aged five and under, 111 of whom died.
In all 355 cases were recorded since January with blood specimens showing high levels of lead traced to gold mining in the poverty stricken villages.
"The cases are receiving treatment and environmental remediation or decontamination is ongoing in the affected communities," added the minister.
Officials said the children by inhaling or ingesting particles from soil that was dumped around their homes after the ore had been extracted.
Nigeria, sub Saharan Africa's second largest economy, boasts vast natural resources including oil but the majority of its people live in deep poverty.