Coast region hit by mosquito transmitted fever

By Stanley Mwahanga

MOMBASA, KENYA: Mombasa County health authorities have announced the outbreak of dengue fever in the region.

The officers say the disease has hit the county and other surrounding counties, but denied any deaths.

The authorities last week warned that the onset of the long rains could spur water and vector borne disease including diarrhea, malaria and dysentery.

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The Standard has also learnt that the number of infections could be high, as all Government hospitals and medical institutions lack the capacity to diagnose the fever and have to transfer samples to private laboratories for tests.

According to estimates from the county government’s health department, more than 100 cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in various hospitals since the beginning of the year.

County Health Executive Binti Omar said most of the reported cases are of elderly and young residents in the county.

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Dr Omar said despite the outbreak, nobody has succumbed to the disease, which is regarded as fatal tropical fever. It however, killed three people in Mombasa last year.

She said her office has no records showing prevalence rates in specific areas adding that the vector transmitting the fever tends to bite in many areas during the day but is more prevalent in areas that are crowded and unhygienic.

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Omar added that most patients have been diagnosed with mild cases, unlike last year where three people succumbed.

Most of the cases diagnosed were detected in private institutions, whose surveillance system to screen and detect the fever is functioning.

Sample tests

Samples from public facilities have been taken to the Centre for Disease and Control in Nairobi for further test and screening. 

“We have had more than 100 cases of the disease since January but they have mainly been mild,” said Omar.

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Medical experts say there is no vaccine against and have similar symptoms as malaria.

Mombasa County Director of Medical Services Khadija Shikelly told The Standard last week that cases of dengue fever in the Coast region are not new.

Symptoms of the disease include severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.

The disease was first detected in Mombasa last year by medical research experts from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri).

Heavy rains in the region are said to have created new breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which are the vectors transmitting the disease to humans.

Omar said the county had begun sensitising the residents through community health workers on the importance of hygiene.

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Mombasa County Centre for Disease and Control Nairobi