One of the eight employees of Nairobi Hospital who contracted cholera is reported to have died, as health authorities step up surveillance on a possible outbreak.
Colleagues at the hospital said the male worker died yesterday morning after a short illness.
The hospital yesterday confirmed the eight cholera cases involving its staff, but denied reports of a full-blown outbreak within its workforce.
Other unverified reports put the number of infections at 23.
Sources said the eight employees worked in the hospital’s catering department, and offered services at the staff canteen.
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The hospital cafeteria has reportedly been closed indefinitely.
“There is an upsurge of cholera cases in Nairobi. We have had several cases admitted at our hospital. Unfortunately, we had eight staff affected,” said the hospital management in a statement.
“There is no outbreak of cholera at the Nairobi Hospital. No patient is at risk and we are continuously monitoring. All precautionary measures are in place.”
Nairobi Hospital acting Chief Executive Officer Chris Abeid, in another statement, noted that as part of ongoing internal investigations, the hospital had alerted county health authorities.
About a month ago, the hospital handled several cases of cholera from different parts of Nairobi, including Embakasi, Kitengela and Riara.
On March 21, Nairobi County Department of Health issued an alert on a possible cholera outbreak.
All hospitals in the county - both referral and sub-county facilities - were asked to treat every suspected incident of the disease as a cholera case.
Nairobi County Health Director Lucia Koyio said the alert had been informed by a cholera case confirmed earlier in the month.
Dr Koyio asked all referral facilities in the county to reactivate their cholera treatment protocol to prevent the spread of the disease.
Before that, another alert was issued by the neighbouring Kajiado County after four suspected cases of cholera were recorded. One patient tested positive.
Affected city estates
“The county is experiencing a cholera outbreak, which was confirmed on March 20. In this regard, I am requesting all referral hospitals to reactivate their cholera treatment units to prevent spread of the disease,” said Koyio.
“Please also reactivate your sub-county response teams.”
Nairobi estates rocked by the cholera outbreak and were put on high alert were Donholm, Nyayo Estate, Tassia, Avenue 1-3, Pipeline and South B. Mlolongo estate in Machakos County also suffered during the outbreak.
Cholera is a bacterial disease. The bacteria, Vibrio cholerae, is spread through contaminated food or water.
It causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration. If untreated, it can be fatal in a matter of hours, even among people who seemed quite healthy before infection.
Cholera transmission is closely linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
Last year, 75 people died countrywide as a cholera outbreak swept across 19 counties.