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350,000 children to be vaccinated in Influenza drive

Health & Science - By Mercy Kahenda | April 14th 2016 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The Government is set to vaccinate at least 350,000 children aged below five years in Nakuru.

This is after an outbreak of the Influenza virus types A and B, which has resulted in 39 deaths and more than 296 accumulated cases in the past three weeks.

Philip Muthoka, deputy director of Medical Services in charge of the Influenza surveillance team, and who was dispatched to the county to investigate and monitor the outbreak, said he had written a proposal to the Ministry of Health to help in funding the programme.

Dr Muthoka said the ministry should help in mobilising resources that will see the underage immunised against the virus. He said the death toll was high and warned that if no measures were put in place, the disease that spreads through contact might infect more infants and elderly people in the country. “Vaccination is very expensive but it is the only measure the Government can out in place to ensure the virus does not kill our future generation,” he said.

Muthoka said vaccination would boost the immune systems of infants who are more vulnerable to the disease.

He said patients who have been vaccinated recover after six to seven days of treatment, compared to those who have not received the jab.

“Patients without immunity may have the virus spreading to their lungs and causing viral pneumonia that is difficult to treat,” he cautioned.

He further said that currently the team was administering Termi-flu, a drug that suppresses the virus in affected patients.

Symptoms of the virus include flu, headache, feeling sleepy, dizziness, sore throat, coughing, breathing difficulties, lack of appetite, pain in the chest and common cold.

Hygienic Measures

The Health ministry dispatched a team of disease-control experts to Nakuru last Thursday after the Influenza A and B virus outbreak was reported in the county.

The ministry educated residents on hygienic measures to curb the spread of the disease.

Though preliminary results from Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) indicated the presence of the virus, the doctor said investigations are stil being conducted to establish if there are other viruses.

By yesterday, there were 36 babies admitted at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital in Nakuru aged below two years. Elburgon Hospital, which reported two deaths by yesterday, had 12 admitted at the facility.

Other areas affected are Bahati, Molo and Gilgil sub-counties.

The outbreak was reported in Nakuru North, Nakuru East, Nakuru West, Njoro, Rongai and Molo sub-counties. Nakuru North was the most affected with over 15 deaths.

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