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Alarm raised over measles outbreak in West Pokot County

Reproductive Health - By Irisheel Shanzu

A seven-year-old boy has died of measles and is among the 40 cases noted in West Pokot County since the disease started ravaging the area last week.

The disease has affected both children under the age of five years and adults.

According to West Pokot Health Executive Jackson Yaralima, the outbreak has been reported at Katangun, Kotulpogh, Kababanyet and Akulo villages in Pokot Central Sub County after a patient who had been admitted at Kacheliba Sub-County Hospital arrived there.

He blamed the trend on low immunisation cover in West Pokot County and the nomadic nature of the communities.

“Locals in Pokot Central are always on the move searching for pasture for their livestock. When we commence immunisation exercise we rarely get them at their doorsteps for immunisation. They value their livestock,” he said.

He added that insecurity challenges along the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties is also responsible for poor immunisation coverage since cattle rustling left homes deserted.

He said the disease was first detected three weeks ago in areas bordering Uganda before a patient who had been admitted at Kacheliba hospital, which borders Uganda, travelled to Katulpogh Sub-Location.

He said the county has commenced immunisation to contain the outbreak completely within the next two months and patients have been admitted at Sigor, Kacheliba and Kapenguria sub-county hospitals.

“I dispatched our medical teams on the ground to carry out emergency immunisation and intervention measures. The child had a complication of so many diseases including measles it was too late to save the life of the child she succumbed," said Yaralima.

He added, “Most of the children have not been taken to the clinic for immunisation. Most of the parents are ignorant, and they see no need of going to the hospital. I urge the public to be very vigilant and observe all the government regulations for the prevention of communicable diseases.”

He noted that all the hospital services have resumed and health workers will camp at Masol Ward to help reach the people at the grass-root level.

“We are pitching medical camps at Amoler, Nyangaita and Akulo areas.measles during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage early delivery or low birth weight," he added.

Katulpogh Sub-Location sub-chief Stephen Cholong said three people from his area have been infected and are at health centres receiving treatment.

He added that locals have now resorted to herbal medicine to treat the disease as they fear from going to the hospital because measles signs and symptoms are similar to Covid-19.

“We are worried and the ministry of health should intervene. The locals slaughter a sheep and apply fats from the sheep to the whole body. They isolate patients until when they recover,” He said.

He noted that the health centres are far and locals are now surviving on home remedies to reduce the scourge.

“How can someone travel for four hours to reach Sigor Sub-County Hospital for treatment? If we are not careful the whole community will be infected. After infection the family members desert the homestead because they don’t want to be infected,” he added.

Symptoms of measles can include watery eyes, sneezing, a dry hacking cough, runny nose, swollen eyelids and inflamed eyes.

There is an often fever that can range from mild to severe.

Some reddish-brown rushes appear around three to four days after initial symptoms which can last for over a week

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