KENYA – The Ministry of Health in Kenya reported an outbreak of cholera in the country following confirmation of 61 cases reported across six counties.

Following the outbreak, all County and Sub-County Health Management Teams under the County Directors of Health have been urged to immediately notify all health workers of the cholera alert as well as to watch out for patients presenting with watery diarrhoea of acute onset.

Of the sixty-one cases reported, thirteen people are currently hospitalized while eight have been discharged with forty treated as outpatients,” the Ministry of Health reported in an official statement.

Health authorities were also urged to conduct active search for acute watery diarrhoea in health facilities and within the communities for missed/unreported cases while ensuring that all health workers are conversant with the case definition and are sensitized on potential Cholera outbreak.

Cholera is an extremely virulent disease which affects both children and adults and can kill within hours. People with low immunity – such as malnourished children or people living with HIV – are at a greater risk of death if infected,” the ministry said.

In addition, the ministry urged officials to strengthen surveillance activities up to the village level and ensure 100% case-based reporting as well as to strengthen the involvement of laboratory personnel in disease surveillance for timely confirmation.

The governmental agency highlighted cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, adding that cholera transmission is closely linked to inadequate environmental management.

Typical at-risk areas include peri-urban slums, where basic infrastructure is not available, as well as camps for internally displaced people or refugees, where minimum requirements of clean water and sanitation are not met,” the government ministry said.

Acting Director General for Health Dr Patrick Amoth said that the outbreak whose origin can be traced to a wedding festival in Kiambu County was spread across Kiambu, Nairobi, Murang’a, Kajiado, Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties.

Dr. Amoth disclosed that the National Public Health Microbiology Laboratory has isolated Vibrio cholera-01-Ogawa as the responsible serotype while warning that the ongoing drought situation in the country may worsen the outbreak.

This even as the Division of Disease Surveillance and Response (DDSR), Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Program (FELTP) and the County Departments of Health of the affected counties commenced response activities,” he added.

Health Acting Director General confirmed that response activities include field investigations, enhanced surveillance, laboratory testing, case management, risk communication, community engagement and environmental sanitation to prevent further spread of the disease and manage the outbreak.

He said that the sub-county health management teams will also be expected to step up weekly IDSR reporting to ensure that over 90% of facilities are reporting as well as to enhance sharing of information between sub-counties.

Conduct support supervision on a more regular basis, re-activate the outbreak management teams at all levels, improve laboratory capacity for specimen collection and shipment,” Dr. Amoth further said.

He further called upon the teams to enhance involvement of other stakeholders such as county and sub-county commissioners, communities, the water agencies and other partners in surveillance and advocacy activities.

Carry out cholera risk analysis for all areas in the sub-county and take appropriate preventive actions together with strengthening management of cases at sub-county and health facility level,” Dr. Amoth highlighted.

Other measures include developing an appropriate preparedness and response plan for sub-counties to prevent propagation of any potential outbreak and plan for sustained contact tracing along with ensuring isolation of cholera cases if admitted in the wards.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health has urged teams to focus on strengthening community sensitization on safe water practices, use of latrines and prompt treatment for diarrhoea cases.

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