Nakuru residents face stigma as disease ravages them
SEE ALSO :Alarm as boys quit school to join gangs“Leishmaniasis is a silent disease that can be detected with keenness because it presents itself as a pimple that later spreads forming lesions. Treatment is most effective when started before extensive damage to the immune system,” says Nyokabi. Twenty years James Kuria has been suffering from the disease for 20 years. It presented itself as a pimple on his chin, and he blamed it on a shave had gone wrong. However, lesions would later spread to his nose, eyes and lips. Many thought he had HIV/Aids. “I undertook a HIV test that turned out negative,” he says.
SEE ALSO :Outbreak of antharax reported in NakuruIn 2015, Kuria went to Gilgil Hospital where he was told that he was suffering from leishmaniasis. Here he is treated freely, and finally his healing is noticeable. But the stigma wont go away. Being a small scale farmer, most of his produce goes to waste as people fear buying it, lest they contract the disease. “At times my produce is rejected because of my health. I pray doctors find a lasting cure to this disease,” he says. Esther Waithera almost lost her marriage barely six months after contracting the skin disease. “Rashes spread so fast on my face, my husband thought I was cursed. Poople would run away from me,” says Waithera. Three years ago, she embarked on treatment that has dried lesions on her ears, nose and lips. She has resorted to sleeping inside mosquito nets to avoid being bitten by sand flies and also planting pyrethrum near her house. Public Health Officer Samuel King’ori says the county government has bought pesticides to spray some 300 households in the locality, to keep away the sand fly.
SEE ALSO :Man admits to killing brother over money“Public officers are working closely with administrators to map and spray areas prone to the disease to curb its transmission,” says Mr King’ori. At least 48 people are undergoing free treatment provided by the county. During outreach programme, locals are trained to repair wall cracks to minimise entry of sand flies; clear bushes around their homes; destroy animal burrows and trap animals that help spread the disease. They are also encouraged to wear long-sleeved clothes while outdoors, especially early in the morning and late in the evening.
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