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Strange 'leg disease' leaves villagers in pain, distress

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy NATHAN OCHUNGE | Sat,May 01 2021 07:00:00 EAT
By NATHAN OCHUNGE | Sat,May 01 2021 07:00:00 EAT

 Joseck Ang'ana (left) the County director for Caring for Kenyan Needs, A Non-governmental organization helps dress a wound for Nashon Okwayo in Ebusikhale village in Vihiga County. Some of the residents have developed strange wounds. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Four years ago, Moses Katimbwa, woke up with an itch on his leg. He didn’t pay much attention to it as he believed the pain would disappear. 

However, a week later, the 53-year-old, noticed a wound on his leg and the pain was unbearable. He sought medical attention, but the doctors couldn’t establish what he was suffering from.   

 “The pain became unbearable and this forced me to visit a local health facility,” said Katimbwa, at his home in Emmutsuru village in Luanda sub-County.

“The wound was cleaned and dressed, but doctors couldn’t establish what had caused it.” 

Katimbwa, a carpenter, said a month later, the wound had spread, the pain was unbearable and he couldn’t walk, forcing him to close down his workshop.

“After a month, the wound was big and smelly. It had maggots and I couldn’t walk. I had to be assisted to perform minor tasks.

“I visited more than 30 hospitals in Vihiga, Siaya, Kisumu and even Kakamega, but no doctor eased my woes,“ he said. 

So far, he has spent over Sh120, 000 seeking treatment and he cannot afford skin grafting, which a doctor recommended.

“When it’s cold or during the rainy season, I am usually in a lot of pain and I can’t sleep. I am helpless. I am almost giving up,” said Katimbwa.

But he is not alone.

Another resident from the area, Josam Mayia narrated how in 2013, he felt a sharp pain in his left leg and days later, it developed into a boil.

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The man, who hails from Ekamanji village, said that to relieve the pain, he decided to prick it, but it got worse. A wound, full of pus and maggots, developed and it spread to his entire leg. 

Mayia, a father of one, revealed that after three years, he was unable to walk and is nowadays bedridden. 

Further, his wife deserted him since he couldn’t work and provide for his family. 

“It has been eight tough eight years. If I don’t receive urgent medical attention, I am going to die. I wish I can  get a well-wisher to pay for my hospitalisation so the leg is amputated. Doctors say I can get an artificial leg, but I cannot afford it,” said Mayia.

There are at least 41 people from different villages in the county that are suffering from the undiagnosed disease.

Dr Joshua Azere, a medical surgeon at the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral hospital suspects the victims could be suffering from chronic ulcers of the legs.

“The darkening of the limbs indicate that gangrene (a type of tissue death caused by a lack of blood supply) could be the cause.

“If the disease is not treated, their legs risk getting amputated to save their lives. Ulcers of the legs can be arterial or venomous,” said Dr Azere.  

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