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Swine flu spreads to nine more schools

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Updated Tue, September 22nd 2009 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Standard Team

Swine flu was reported in nine more schools as the Government warned that thousands of Kenyans could have contracted the H1N1 virus (swine flu) without knowing they have it.

The shock revelations come after health officials have been put on high alert in Rift Valley, Nairobi and Central provinces where swine flu has been detected in different schools.

In Central Province, 10 students from Naromoru Girls School in Nyeri have tested positive for swine flu while pupils in two other primary schools in Njabini area of Nyandarua District have had body fluid samples taken on suspicion they have contracted the disease.

In the Rift Valley, 11 students from Sacred Heart Boys High School and 20 others from Kirobon High School have been in quarantine since Friday after testing positive for the flu.

Yesterday Public Health Director Shahnaaz Shariff told The Standard that the spread "is normal" and that the Health Ministry had anticipated it.

The good news is that the strain going round in Kenya is extremely mild and not fatal as the one that had caused 2,837 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation records.

"What we have is mild. There are cases which are not symptomatic, but we only came to know about them through tests," Dr Shariff said.

He said the ministry would not close down the schools but quarantine them as the students receive medication.

Enough drugs

"We have enough Tami flu drugs that have been so far effective in fighting this virus. In Kenya we have been lucky as no case of death has been reported," the Public Health director said.

Yesterday, a school was quarantined after 68 students were taken ill with symptoms similar to those of swine flu.

Koibatek District Education Officer Andrew Mibei said some students at Eldama Ravine Girls Secondary School had been isolated in one dormitory.

In Molo, nine students from St Joseph’s Seminary were quarantined at Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital over fears they could be infected with swine flu.

The principal, Father Peter Mwangi, told journalists several students had developed headaches, coughs and fever, symptoms associated with swine flu.

At the same time, the administrator of Sacred Heart Boys in Rongai, Father Johannes Haga last week confirmed that 30 students had shown symptoms of the flu.

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