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Doctors flown to Mandera to fight chikungunya and cholera outbreaks

NORTH EASTERN
By Ishaq Jumbe | May 31st 2016 | 2 min read
Double outbreak of cholera and chikungunya placing huge strain on Mandera medical services

A team of doctors and nurses has been flown to Mandera to help contain chikungunya and cholera outbreaks.

The outbreaks have so far claimed 14 lives with several others hospitalised.

The group of 11 health specialists, consisting of six doctors and five nurses, left Mombasa yesterday morning. They said they were responding to a distress call by their Mandera counterparts.

"We are responding to a distress call from our colleagues in Mandera, who have also informed us that 50 per cent of them have been infected by both diseases because of their interaction with the patients," said lead doctor, Mahmud Mohammed.

The doctor said areas bordering Somali were the worst hit, and that they would remain in the area until the situation normalises.

"We hope that our efforts will avert the crises in the area. We expect another team to fly out to join us later this evening (yesterday) to combat the scourge," said Dr Mahmud.

The team from the Kenya Association of Muslim Medical Professionals said they would fly more personnel after assessing the situation on the ground.

"We will assess the situation before we plan whether we will seek the help of more volunteers from the region (Coast). But we are prepared to assist where we can," he said.

He added: "We have ensured that our members do not become statistics of the epidemics we are setting out to combat."

According to Mandera county government, Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease with symptoms such as high fever, had added more pressure to the cholera response.

Mandera Chief Officer of Health Mariam Dahir said over 540 patients infected with the mosquito-borne disease are being admitted in several public health centres.

But Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri said the number was much lower than the one given by the county health officers.

Kenya Institute of Medical Research (Kemri) first confirmed the Chikungunya outbreak on May 16.

Kemri attributed increased cases of chikungunya to the virulent nature of the virus, which multiplies in areas with high temperatures. The mosquito transmitting the disease "displays a unique biting habit", it said.

"It bites during the daytime, peaking its activity in the early morning and late afternoon," said Kemri acting Director Rosemary Sang.

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