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State surveillance of cholera increased after eight people die

COUNTIES
By MAUREEN ODIWUOR AND DENNIS ONYANGO | February 13th 2015

Kenya: The Government has stepped up surveillance of cholera following the deaths of eight people due to an outbreak in three counties.

The Ministry of Health said 166 cholera cases have also been reported in Homa Bay, Migori and Nairobi counties.

A Multi-Agency Outbreak Co-ordination Committee has been formed to assess the situation and advise on response activities.

Medical Services Director Nicholas Muraguri said the outbreak began early this month in Migori and Homa Bay, where 158 cases of acute diarrhoea were reported. The outbreak in Nairobi was observed in January.

"The total number of acute watery diarrhoea in the three counties is, therefore, 166, with eight deaths," he confirmed.

In the report, Migori has 133 cases and four deaths, Homa Bay 45 cases and two deaths, while Nairobi has eight cases and two deaths.

The ministry attributed the cholera outbreak to the dry spell in the country, which has led to scarcity of clean water.

There are also fears that the disease is likely to spread to the neighbouring counties of Kisii, Nyamira and Kisumu.

In Migori, feasting at funerals has been banned following the outbreak.

Speaking at a press briefing in Migori town, Health Executive Elijah Odhiambo said the move was a precautionary measure.

"From our survey since the outbreak, we have established that hygiene is not observed in places where people are served food such as funerals and streets," he said.

Although no cholera case has been reported in Kisii County, the local government has banned food hawking as a preventive measure.

County Public Health Officer Mellitus Kabar yesterday directed all public health officials in the area to close down unhygienic food premises due to the outbreak in the neighbouring counties.

VENDORS AFFECTED

The directive will see over 20,000 food hawkers and water vendors affected.

There was fear yesterday when one person was admitted at Nduru Level Four Hospital in Kisii with acute diarrhoea.

 

Investigations later indicated that it was not a case of cholera.

The outbreak started three days ago, with the worst-hit areas being Lwala, Kamagambo and Rongo in Migori County.

The Government is currently providing technical assistance to conduct comprehensive outbreak investigations in the affected counties.

Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that affects both adults and children and can kill within hours.

The infection is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are an estimated 3.5 million cholera cases every year, and 100,000-120,000 deaths caused by the disease.

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