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Coast and North Eastern regions soft spots for Chikungunya viral disease

COUNTIES
By Ally Jamah | Jun 7th 2016 | 2 min read

Coast region and northern Kenya are most vulnerable to the Chikungunya virus that is currently ravaging parts of Mandera County.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) indicated that the virus, which is transmitted by aedes mosquito, is unlikely to spread to other parts of the country. 

Acting Director for Kemri’s Centre for Virus Research Rosemary Sang said should persons who are infected with Chikungunya travel to the Coast or other parts of northern Kenya, they could trigger further spread of the virus to the two regions.

“The aedes mosquito that carries the virus is found in all parts of the country. But the virus itself multiplies fast in high temperature areas. So if it is introduced to those regions by travellers, it could cause a problem,” she said.

She added: “There was an outbreak of Chikungunya in the Coast region in 2004 and 2005, specifically in Lamu, Mombasa and Kilifi. So the risk of the virus spreading there is justified based on historical facts and the environment.”

 Ill fortune

According to the World Health Organisation, mosquitoes biting infected persons can also become infected and spread the virus further to others.

Should the virus spread to Coast region, it would portend ill-fortune, especially for the country’s tourism sector that has just recently begun recovering from a debilitating slump.

But the expert admitted that it would be impossible to control the movement of people across the country, saying only enhanced measures should be taken to control carrier mosquitoes.

As per reports, the Chikungunya virus in Mandera was in fact spread by infected travellers from Somalia.

The virus remains in the human system for 5-7 days and mosquitoes biting an infected person during this period can also become infected and spread the virus further.

Fortunately, people who recover from the virus infection develop life-long immunity.

 580 infected

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said recently that the Government was battling to control mosquitoes carrying the virus in Mandera while mobilising area residents to protect themselves from being bitten by the vector.

Dr Mailu admitted that Chikungunya poses a real threat to public health, not just in Mandera and the neighbouring counties but to all of Kenya.

Kemri is currently undertaking a research on distribution of the infection, with preliminary results showing that Chikungunya virus is circulating in low frequency along the coastline and parts of western Kenya.

So far, at least 580 people, including 40 nurses, four doctors, 13 clinical officers and 23 support staff, have been infected by Chikungunya virus.

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