PRISTINA -- Kosovo's top infectious diseases specialists say health issues developed by several election officials who opened ballot boxes containing votes from Serbia after a October 6 snap poll were not caused by a contagious disease.
More than 20 Central Election Commission officials were taken to hospital with health problems after opening five ballot boxes from Serbia.
Local media reported that 26 had allergic reactions and skin problems after opening the ballot boxes. Emergency doctors said all had symptoms of itching and rashes.
The results of tests performed on samples from 12 of those who sought medical help showed that the irritations were not caused by contagious agents, said Lindita Berisha, the acting director of the Kosovo Infectious Clinic on October 15.
"Based on the results, the possibility of an infectious disease is excluded," Berisha said. "All laboratory tests from the Biochemical Institute are within normal values,” she said, adding that her clinic was only performing the analysis of infectious pathogens, while "other results are pending."
Asked about the causes of the rashes, Berisha said she could only talk about her field of expertise -- infectious diseases.
Naser Ramadani, the head of Kosovo's National Institute of Public Health, said the cause of the issue is still being investigated by forensics specialists.
"Other analyses outside the medical domain concerning the sources of poisoning are the responsibility of other relevant institutions, that is, forensics," Ramadani said.
All patients are feeling well and are expected to be out of hospital within the next day, health officials have said.
In general elections held on October 6, Albin Kurti's Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) defeated center-right political groupings formed by former Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) fighters who had governed since 2007.
Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared independence in 2008, a decade after an insurrection by UCK fighters and Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic's bloody crackdown launched a 1998-99 war.
It has been recognized by more than 100 countries but not by Serbia.