Scare in Kakamega after another school closed

Kakamega Senator Dr Boni Khalwale and Kakamega county Mp Mp Elsie Muhanda address media at Sacred heart Mukumu girls high school on April 2, 2023. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Another school has been closed after more than 100 students were taken ill with suspected cholera.

The closure of Butere Boys High School comes a day after students of Sacred Heart Mukumu Girls, also in Kakamega County, were sent home over suspected food poisoning that has already killed three and left hundreds in hospital.

On Tuesday, April 4, at least 1,500 schoolboys were instructed to leave the institution. "Dear Parent/Guardian: this is to inform you that your son has been sent home due to an outbreak of stomach problems leading to diarrhoea," read the communication from the principal, Henry Okusi.

"Once the Public Health Officers give us a report declaring the school safe for your son, we shall recall them back. Bear with us."

The school management, county government officials and the County Education Director on Tuesday met over the matter.

Butere County Hospital Medical Superintendent Fredrick Juma could not tell the number of students treated at the facility, but The Standard established that at least 200 boys reported vomiting and diarrhoea after breakfast.

They were taken to the St James Hospital in Butere where some were treated and discharged, while those in critical condition were referred to the Butere County Hospital.

Some of the students were yet to travel by 5pm. "I have just been discharged from Butere County Hospital after I was admitted due to diarrhea after I took porridge and githeri in the morning," said Ade Morgan, a Form Two student from Kayole, Nairobi.

Another Form Two student who also wanted to travel to Nairobi was by evening still stranded at the school gate for lack of bus fare.

A teacher said they were making phone calls to the parents of the boys who did not have fare.

"We agreed to have them go home so that we can check and improve the sanitation situation of the school before allowing them back," said the teacher who wished not to be named.

Meanwhile, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale has asked the Mukumu Girls' principal, Fridah Ndolo, to stop blaming the media for the closure of the school.

In a letter to the parents, the principal accused the media of creating a "toxic environment" by reporting the outbreak.

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