Kenya increases screening of travellers amid plague outbreak

Monday October 23 2017

plague and Marburg virus

Ministry of Health Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko speaks to reporters during the Kenya Pharmaceutical Regulatory Compliance Conference on July 25, 2017 at Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi. He has said there is no case of either plague or Marburg virus disease in the country. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By STELLAR MURUMBA
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Kenya has increased its surveillance of visitors coming from Madagascar and Uganda in the wake of plague and Marburg virus disease outbreaks in the two countries respectively.

Aircrafts from the two countries and ships from Madagascar must now submit health declaration forms and sanitation certificates at the points of entries.

In Madagascar, the plague outbreak has killed more than 100 people since August.

SCREENING

More than 1,100 cases of infections have been reported.

In Uganda, two people have been killed by Marburg virus, according to World Health Organization (WHO).

“In order to prevent importation of these diseases into the country, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with stakeholders have undertaken some measures including screening of travellers and crew members of vessels from the two countries on arrival,” Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said.

He added: “We have intensified active case search in counties bordering the epicentre of the outbreak. However, there is no single case of either of the two diseases in the country.”

BORDER POINTS
The Marburg virus outbreak was reported in Kween District of Eastern Uganda bordering Bungoma County.

Dr Kioko said officials have put all health institutions including private facilities on high alert at all points of entry and within bordering counties including Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot.

“I wish to assure Kenyans that the ministry has taken adequate measures to ensure that none of the two outbreaks is introduced and spreads in the country,” he said.

TRANSPORT
A WHO risk assessment classified Kenya as a “moderate risk of potential spread due to travel interconnection with Madagascar”.

There are more than 20 weekly flights between Madagascar and Kenya.

Dr Kioko expressed concerns that the increased air travel can facilitate the spread of the disease due to short time taken to travel between the two countries.

Plague may be transmitted to humans through bites of infected fleas, direct contact with infected fluids or tissues (either human or other infected animals), and inhalation of infected respiratory droplets.

SYMPTOMS

Plague can be a very severe disease with a case-fatality ratio of 30 per cent to 100 per cent if untreated.

The disease develops within one to seven days after infection and symptoms includes sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, body aches, body weakness, nausea and vomiting.

If diagnosed early, the disease can be cured with antibiotics and supportive care.

The plague outbreak has forced Madagascar to suspend the country’s 2017-2018 academic calendar indefinitely for the fourth time due to the epidemic.