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Cholera still affecting four districts

Children fetching water in the eastern Kenya district of Isiolo. Cholera cases have been reported in the area and in neighbouring regions facing a severe water shortage due to prevailing drought
(Noor Ali/IRIN)

Four districts in Kenya are still reporting cases of cholera, which has spread partly because of population movement and because of a water shortage, which has led to poor sanitation and hygiene, a senior health official said.

As of 21 May, the districts affected include Kajiado, Moyale, Laisamis and Tinderet, in Kenya’s Eastern, Northeastern and Rift Valley provinces. About 17 districts were affected at the peak of the cholera outbreak earlier this year.

"Nationally, at least 240 cases have been laboratory-confirmed to be cholera," Shahnaaz Sharif, Director of Public Health, told IRIN, adding that about 1,842 cases of those presenting with symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting had also been recorded and treated as cholera.

"When one sample in an area tests positive for cholera then we treat all those coming in with similar symptoms for cholera," Sharif said. "It is extremely difficult and time-consuming testing everyone."

Among the recently confirmed cases are four in Nairobi and in Ongata Rongai, on the outskirts of the capital, he said.

The four cases involved recent travellers to the western Kenya region, which had been affected in an earlier cholera outbreak. No new cases have been reported in the region in the past 21 days, he said.

Some 62 cases of diarrhoea have been reported in Laisamis, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Upper Eastern office. Some 45 patients have been admitted to the Laisamis Catholic Mission Hospital, said Liban Mohamed, KRCS regional co-coordinator, adding that treatment kits had been sent to the area.

Other affected areas include the localities of Merille and Logologo, in the northeastern district of Marsabit, and Archers Post area in Samburu District.

According to local leaders, more people may have died of the disease in remote parts of the affected districts due to a lack of access to health facilities.

Some schools and hotels have been closed in a bid to control the spread of the disease. "Hotels... have been closed in all these centres, traders are losing business," said Hussein Ahmed Rage, Marsabit county council official. "Children are now at home, it is a crisis... the government should... help."

According to the Marsabit county council chairman, Mohamed Kochale, the situation is likely to deteriorate because of the prevailing drought. "We need mobile health services. People also need food..." he said, adding that a lack of food was undermining patients' response to treatment.

Peter Kasanga, Laisamis area health officer, told IRIN that additional medication had been requested to help deal with the cases.

Meanwhile, Sharif said the third round of polio immunisation would begin on 25 May in the northwestern Turkana region, where 13 cases have been confirmed - up from two in March. The last polio case in Kenya was recorded more than 20 years ago.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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