Five people have died while 50 others have been admitted to various hospitals following a cholera outbreak in Ugunja, Siaya County.
The outbreak, the first in the region since September last year, was first reported on Sunday at St Paul’s hospital.
Dr Samuel Owino Omondi, the county director of Health, on Wednesday said the number was likely to rise because more patients with cholera symptoms were being admitted.
Three of the dead were children.
“With the re-emergence of cholera in the region, we are calling upon the residents to observe cleanliness and avoid public eateries. If anyone wants to be safe from the disease, drink treated water and encourage the use of toilets,” he said
He called upon residents to dig toilets and blamed them for aggravating the spread of the disease by keeping the dead for long before burial.
“It is a medical requirement that victims of cholera should be buried immediately to avoid more infections,” he said
He said keeping bodies for several days while performing rituals and feasting could be the cause of the disease’s recurrence.
Dr Omondi said the cases were mainly from homes surrounded by river Wuoroya.
“We have admitted more cases from Uhembo, Ngunya, Ochiko, Rangala and Umaje villages in Ugunja constituency,” he said.
Some cases have also been reported outside Siaya County.
The patients are hospitalised at Ambira Sub-County Dispensary, St Paul’s Mission Health Centre and Rang’ala Mission Hospital.
Dr Benard Onguche of the department of health in Ugunja said lack of water in the area was the leading cause of the disease.
“Since November last year, we have not been supplied with clean drinking water. Most of the people in the region use water from river Wuoroya which is contaminated,” said Dr Onguche.
Ms Anjeline Otieno, 56, said she developed pain in her stomach on Sunday when she was in church.
“On Saturday, I went to the funeral of a friend and ate there. In the middle of the night, I felt uneasy but when I went to church, it was worse,” she said
The health department has since deployed community health workers to create awareness about the disease besides urging residents to work with county officers to prevent any further spread.
“We have opened cholera treatment unit centres at Ukwala dispensary, Ambira dispensary, Simenya dispensary and the Siaya County Referral Hospital to deal with emerging cholera cases,” he said.
Dr Omondi added that the county government had started distributing chlorine to the affected homes as well as Oral Rehydration Solution to help the dehydrated patients regain body fluids.
The director said the county had also started chlorinating the Uludhi and Wuoroyo rivers that are believed to have contaminated water.