Kenya: Wajir Health Officials Say Cholera Outbreak Contained

25 September 2019

The recent wave of cholera outbreak in Wajir County has been contained, according to Health Services Chief Officer Ahmed Garaat.

Mr Garaat said the epidemic, first reported in May, has so far claimed nine lives and left at least 495 people infected.

"The situation across Wajir is calm compared to the recent past and since May when the disease was first reported in Tarbaj Sub-County," he said.

The killer disease claimed at least three lives over the weekend but Mr Garaat said the victims died outside the established treatment centers.

"The recent deaths that happened three days ago happened outside the health facilities but we ensured we got all the sick and any suspected case to the treatment centers," he said.

SITUATION UNDER CONTROL

There are five cholera treatment centers in Wajir County set up in Tarbaj, Wajir East, Wajir West Wajir South and Habaswein sub-counties.

"We have standby ambulances within areas we perceive as hotspots at the moment but as we speak the situation is calm," he said.

The health official said due to the improved health situation, Tarbaj and Habaswein cholera treatment centers have remained idle.

"We don't have patients in some treatment centers but they remain operational until we are sure of the situation," he said.

He said that the disease originated from the neighbouring Kotulo in Mandera County.

"This is a cross-county situation that we are dealing with and we urge our people to observe high hygiene standards to deal with spreading the disease," he said.

CHOLERA CAMPAIGN

In Wajir, health education about cholera has been introduced in schools and market places to enlighten residents on the importance of sanitation and hygiene at home.

"Our health officials are visiting schools, market places and homes [and] organising public barazas just to ensure everyone gets to know the importance of high standards of hygiene," said Mr Garaat.

He said radio talk shows in the local dialect have been organised to spread information on cholera.

"We are getting support from other health service providers in the country and I believe in the next few days we will have dealt with the situation completely," he said.

CONTAMINATED WATER

Mass water treatment has been launched in the county after it emerged that contaminated water sources were the leading causes of cholera in Wajir.

"Apart from home sanitation and hygiene, we are treating all water points across the county as we seek to deal with the disease," said Mr Garaat.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated.

It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called vibrio faeces.

The bacteria is usually found in food or water contaminated by faeces from an infected person.

DEADLY DISEASE

When a person consumes the contaminated food or water, the bacteria release a toxin in the intestines that causes severe diarrhoea.

Mr Garaat said all food kiosks and open eateries will remain closed until authorities are sure of the situation.

Cholera symptoms can begin as soon as a few hours or as long as five days after infection and include watery diarrhoea and vomiting.

Other symptoms of cholera include rapid heart rate, loss of skin elasticity, dry mucous membranes, thirst and muscle cramps.

If not treated, dehydration can lead to shock and death in a matter of hours.

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