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Nairobi put on the alert as dengue fever hits Mombasa

Cases of dengue fever have increased with 352 people showing symptoms of the viral disease in Mombasa.

This comes as Nairobi County warns of a high risk of outbreak of the disease in the city due to movement of people from the Coast.

More than 150 people have been diagnosed with dengue fever in Mombasa over the last two days. Kisauni is the worst-hit with 114 people affected.

Mombasa County Chief Health Officer Khadija Shikely said a study earlier this year by the Ministry of Health and Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that Kenya had a high prevalence rate.

HIGHEST PREVALENCE

The research, conducted between January and February in three African countries, said Mombasa had the highest prevalence rate at 20 per cent.

“The research revealed that Kenya is a high risk area with the highest cases of dengue fever among Southern, Western and East African countries. It specifically identified Mombasa as having the highest rate in the whole of Africa,” Dr Shikely said.

Dengue fever is spread by female mosquitoes, mainly of the species Aedes aegypti, which also spreads yellow fever. According to the World Health Organisation, the mosquito also transmits chikungunya and Zika infections.

Dengue is widespread throughout the tropics, with local variations in risk influenced by rainfall, temperature and unplanned rapid urbanisation.

NO TREATMENT

Severe dengue is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children. There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates.

However, Dr Shikely said the outbreak, which was detected last month, was being contained.

“Out of the 352 cases, 202 have been laboratory proved,” said Dr Shikely.

From April 1, Dr Shikely said 180 patients sought treatment at Aga Khan Hospital, 77 at Jocham, Mombasa Hospital 67, Al Farooq 31, Sayyid Fatima 27, Bomu 22 and Mikindani Medical treated 10 patients.

The county is now buying testing kits for public clinics. Currently patients are being tested at Coast Provincial General and Tudor District Hospitals.

“They go for between Sh600 and Sh1,000 per test. We will buy more for our main health facilities including  Port Reitz, Likoni and Kisauni district hospitals. We will also buy two for high volume centres,” she said.

EXAMINING CASES

Mr Raphael Mwanyamawi, the county head of disease surveillance, said his team was going round examining dengue fever cases in the county.

“Since the onset of the rainy season, we have been working on vector control and chlorination of our wells. Thank God we don’t have any cholera outbreak due to the rains. But all systems have been rolled out with the help of community health workers,” she said.

No death has been reported from the disease.