One dead, 60 in hospital after kala-azar outbreak in Marsabit

Tuesday May 30 2017

Some residents of  Basil in Wajir County at the Basil health centre await screening for kala-azar after an outbreak  in August, 2014. A child has died and forty people are recuperating at Marsabit Referral Hospital after a similar outbreak. PHOTO | FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Some residents of Basil in Wajir County at the Basil health centre await screening for kala-azar after an outbreak in August, 2014. A child has died and forty people are recuperating at Marsabit Referral Hospital after a similar outbreak. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By IRENE MWENDWA
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A six-year-old child has died while forty people are recuperating at Marsabit County Referral Hospital after an outbreak of kala-azar.

Speaking to Nation on Tuesday, the hospital Chief Officer Abshiro Hapicha said that up to 20 people were also referred to Kenyatta National Hospital.

He said, the outbreak began a month ago along the Garrisa-Marsabit border.

“We have around forty people admitted, up to 20 cases were referred to Kenyatta National Hospital,” said Mr Hapicha.

The disease causes reduced blood levels, and the referred patients are poised to receive transfusion.

Chief Officer in charge of health James Chiwe told the press that there were challenges in treating the affected since the outbreak.

Affected areas include Shur, Gudhas, Hawaye and Baalar.

“The ministry has taken steps and is spraying the regions to rid sand fly and avoid further infections,” said Mr Chiwe.

Kala-azar is transmitted by sand flies that bite and suck human blood.

“They multiply and migrate from the host cell through the blood stream to fresh cells hence the infection is progressive,” said Mr Hapicha.

These insects survive in tropical and temperate regions hence Marsabit-Wajir border is a perfect environment for their growth and multiplication.

Some of the signs and symptoms of the disease include fever, enlarged spleen and the liver and it is easy to mistake it for malaria.