Cholera outbreak leaves 13 people dead in five counties

Friday, May 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/Gerald Ithana

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

The government says it is racing against time to contain the spread of cholera in five counties, that have, so far, killed 13 people.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe says the deaths have been reported in Marsabit (12) and Turkana (one).

Speaking during the Covid-19 daily briefing in Nairobi, the Cabinet Secretary said apart from Marsabit and Turkana, the cholera outbreak had also been reported in Wajir, Garissa and Murang’a.

He said 550 cases had been reported, warning that ongoing rains could exacerbate the situation.

“We hope to contain the spread of the disease in two weeks. May God comfort the bereaved families and rest in peace the souls of the departed,” he said.

Kagwe said the outbreak was localised in Marsabit, which had 268, and Turkana county which had recorded 222.

Garissa has 48 cases, Wajir (four) while Murang’a has eight. Children aged 10 years and below make 70 per cent of the deaths.

The CS said the country was currently exposed to diseases mainly due to ongoing heavy rains which have caused flooding and displacement of people.

“We must recognise that we are exposed to the disease because of the ongoing rains and floods,” he said.

Kagwe said the cholera outbreak started in Garissa, moved to Wajir, Turkana and Murang’a, before being reported in Marsabit on April 24.

Medical personnel

In Marsabit, the outbreak was reported in the border area of Illeret.

The government has dispatched medical personnel, equipment and drugs to the area, situated over 500 kilometres north of Marsabit town to fight the outbreak.

The disease is believed to have originated from a neighbouring country where it had earlier been reported.

According to World Health Organization, Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio Cholerae.

Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development. 

Researchers have estimated that every year, there are roughly 1.3 to 4.0 million cases, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera.

Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

A global strategy on cholera control with a target to reduce cholera deaths by 90 per cent was launched in 2017.

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