School grapple to contain TB cases as region record new infection cases

Ambusket Secondary School in Olenguruone, Nakuru County. Four students at the school have been diagnosed with Tuberculosis. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
It is barely evening at Ambusket Secondary School in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County, but the cold is unnerving.

Students stand in groups chatting while trying to ignore the chilly weather.

They seem to have developed an ingenious way of beating the cold while outdoor - staying in groups to keep each other warm.

“It is extremely cold here. Even during hot January days, things remain unchanged in this region. Our students are always encouraged to put on heavy clothes in order to cope,” Edward Koech, the school principal says.

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Maiden steps

Students who have just joined Form One can be seen making their maiden steps into the fields of play, looking a bit shy as their bodies tremble as a result of the biting cold.

However, unknown to the school, it is the method of grouping to ward off the cold that has turned into an infectious tunnel through which the sickening tentacles of Tuberculosis (TB) have spread.

In 2016, the school recorded its first case of TB.

The following year, two more students were diagnosed with the killer disease, while last year four cases were unearthed.

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Survival tactic

“Due to the biting cold in this area, almost everyone likes to join a group so as to keep warm. Grouping has become a survival tactic, which has made it impossible to contain the spread of TB,” says Mr Koech.

Congestion in the classrooms has not helped much. 

Koech says the school has been engaging public health officers. They come to check on the students, and usually make recommendations. But still, there has not been much of a change.

TB is a contagious infection that usually attacks the lungs. It can also spread to other parts of the body like the brain and the spine.

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The disease is spread just like a cold or flu is; through the air.

When someone sick coughs, sneezes or talks, tiny droplets that contain the germs are released, and can be transmitted to anyone nearby.

A look at the school records revealed that the last visit by a public health officer was in August 1, last year.

The health officer recommended that the school increases hand washing facilities, enhance cleanliness in toilets and the kitchen.

“The school has day scholars and boarders. The officer has advised them to keep away from congested rooms even when outside the school; and practice hygiene,” says Koech, adding: “We also conduct regular checks in the school for purposes of containing the disease.”

He says the school has also kept classrooms and dormitories more ventilated.

“We also have regular talks with the students to make them avoid congestion even at home since most of them reported to school while infected,” says Koech.

Records at the nearby Olenguruone District Hospital show that in October last year, the hospital recorded six new cases of TB locally. Patients were aged between 15 and 77 years.

Five cases

In November, five cases were recorded, with patients aged between 30 and 54 years, while in December five other new cases were recorded. The patients were aged between three and 30 years.

An official at the hospital told The Standard cases were rampant because of the stuffiness of the houses, and the idea of staying in groups to combat the cold.

“Most of the houses at home are stuffy,” the official said.

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