Alarm after parasitic disease leaves 11 dead

Thursday September 18 2014

Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani speaks at a past media briefing. PHOTO | FILE

Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani speaks at a past media briefing. Medical workers in the county have issued an alert over rising cases of Kala-azar following the death of 11 people from the disease in the past two months. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DANIEL OTIENO
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Medical workers in the county have issued an alert over rising cases of Kala-azar following the death of 11 people from the disease in the past two months.

Nearly 150 0thers were diagnosed with the disease and have been admitted to hospital.

The county government has so far provided six mobile clinics for testing and treating residents in various areas.

LOSS OF APPETITE

The county’s disease surveillance coordinator, Mr Boru Gura, said they were reaching remote parts of the devolved unit that do not have health institutions.

He said the current drought had prompted many herders to move elsewhere in search of pasture for their livestock. This has not helped contain the disease as those infected spread it to other areas, he added.

Governor Ukur Yatani said there was an influx of herders in Wajir and Isiolo, who sought water.

Kala-azar is a chronic and potentially fatal parasitic disease of the internal organs, particularly the liver, spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes.

It is caused by the parasite Leishmania donovani. The parasite is transmitted by sandfly bites.

Kala-azar is associated with fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, enlargement of the liver, spleen and nodes, and suppression of the bone marrow.

EMERGENCY FUND
“We are on high alert. We have sent mobile clinics to various water points, where we test and treat those who are infected. We don’t want to lose more lives,” said Mr Yatani.

Also provided at the water points is vaccination of livestock to prevent disease transmission. They had turned to the emergency fund to avert further deaths, the governor said.

Mr Yatani regretted that the drought had brought more problems for the people of northern and eastern Kenya.