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Health CS: 39 babies have died of influenza since March

 Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopha Mailu(right) and Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Nicholas Muraguri Addressing the press at Nairobi. He says the outbreak of Influenza virus types A and B in Nakuru has resulted in 39 deaths. (PHOTO: BEVERLYNE MUSILI/ STANDARD)

The outbreak of Influenza virus types A and B in Nakuru has resulted in 39 deaths. In total, 296 cases have been reported.

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu in a statement last evening said a preliminary analysis sent to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) indicated the cause of the severe acute respiratory illness, which broke out three weeks ago, was influenza virus types A and B.

"On March 24, the ministry was notified of a severe acute respiratory illness outbreak. We dispatched a team of disease control experts and a preliminary analysis of the samples was sent to Kemri/USAMRD-K laboratories to identify Influenza virus types A and B as the cause of the illness," said Mailu.

He said the infected children below five years suffered coughs, fever that did not respond to medication, convulsions and coma. 39 have since died.

"The cases were also responding poorly to antibiotics. The illness has resulted in 39 deaths. 296 cases of infection were reported as at April 11," said Mailu.

The outbreak was reported in Nakuru North, Nakuru East, Nakuru West, Njoro, Rongai and Molo sub-counties since March.

Nakuru North was the most affected with over 15 recorded deaths. Nakuru East and Nakuru West recorded over 10 deaths while other deaths were reported in Elburgon and Baringo.

The CS said the ministry was continuing with investigations and called on caregivers to take children for medical checkups. He said the ministry had already disseminated a case definition to all county health care workers to enhance prompt case detection.

"There is also heightened surveillance for acute respiratory illnesses and especially those affecting children in the county.

Mailu called on Kenyans to practice cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene. "Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cloth when coughing or sneezing and exercise hand hygiene," he said.

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