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Mysterious disease kill more than eight as hundreds seek medication

By Julius Chepkwony and Sylvia Chepchirchir | Published Tue, May 8th 2018 at 12:33, Updated May 8th 2018 at 14:02 GMT +3

Eight people succumb to unknown disease in Kolowa Ward, Baringo County

Chebo Chepkatuw writhes in pain as her twin children watch. Not aware of the pain their mother is undergoing, the two want her to breastfeed them.

Chepkatuw is however not in a position and all she does is look at the two helplessly as she writhe in pain.

The middle-aged mother is among hundreds of people from Kolowa ward Tiaty Sub-County affected by an unknown disease that has claimed the lives of more than eight people in the past two weeks. One of the twins is also affected.

The Standard in their visit to the area found four wards of AIC Lodengo Health Centre full, each patient with intravenous fluids. The hospital nurse in-charge says tht over 15 were admitted yesterday morning.

Clara Lotuw says that this has been the situation for the past two weeks and is now worried that the condition is getting worse.

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Lotuw confirms eight people have died while undergoing medication at the facility. She however fears the number could get higher.

“The people you see here came here in the morning and we had to admit them, those admitted complain of diarrhea and vomit, they are restless and complain of abdominal pains,” said Lotuw.

Casualties and severity

The mysterious disease according to the nurse kills in less than two hours. However, it responds to medication if early detected. The unknown disease responds well to broad spectrum antibiotics.

Lotuw said they have attended to hundreds of patients as they receive ten to fifteen-mostly visiting the facility late in the evening.

The 30 hospital beds were full and dozens slept under a tree as the nurses tried their best to save their lives.

The nurse said the disease is transmissible telling from the trend in which family members have sought medication at the health centre days after one of them contracted the disease.

People in the area rely on rain which collects on water pants for use, the which is however not treated.

Tradition allegedly remains a stumbling block as attempts to educate the people on the need to boil water and or use chemicals to treat it has never born fruits.

People living in these areas drink and use untreated water, practice open defecation.

“We have tried to educate them boil water but they have failed to heed to our advice, they further declined to use chemicals we provide to them here,” added the nurse.

Causes of infection and investigation

The nurse fears there exist a bacteria in the water used to prepare busaa-a traditional liquor.

Lotuw said the matter should be addressed with utmost urgency and have neighboring health facilities equipped with drugs to help in curbing the situation.

“If possible, dispensaries around the area should be equipped with drugs for easier management of this condition, I cannot say that this is an outbreak but hygiene related condition,” she said.

Kelvin Kiplagat a lab technologist in the facility said they are yet to establish what the disease is. He said specimen had been sent to Baringo County Hospital in Kabarnet in an attempt to establish what the disease is.

“Under my investigation I ruled out Cholera, we have however referred some specimen to Baringo County Hospital and we are yet to get the results,” said Kiplagat.

Five villages including Tilingwa, Chepelion , Nalukumongin, Kipnai and Loiwat have been affected.

Philip Nyangolei a resident said they have no dispensaries in the affected areas the few that exist are just structures with no manpower.

“These areas have dispensaries, however we have no nurses, and we need nurses to administer drugs in the hospital shelves,” said Nyangolei.

Nurses sent to dispensaries at Tilingwa, Loiwat and Kipnai allegedly report and leave immediately for reasons not known.

Nyangolei revealed that many have died in the villages and lauded the two nurses at Lodengo for working tirelessly to save lives. He said poor road networks in the area makes the situation even worse, there are no vehicles plying the route and many patients die on their way to hospital.

“We had nurses here but they left, they abandoned the hospitals to untrained personnel who cannot administer drugs,” he said.

Lomuke sub-location assistant chief Esther Kwamabus said community health workers should educate the community on the need of having pit latrines and using treated water.

She encouraged the people to shun old tradition of not talking treated and or boiled water and called on the government to intervene and deploy more nurses to the area.

Baringo County Health CEC Mary Panga said they are studying the collected samples and will soon releases the results.

Panga dismissed claims that they have no personnel in the area. She ruled out cholera and suspects its food poisoning.


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