alexa Ministry allays fears of Ebola outbreak - Daily Nation

Ministry allays fears of Ebola outbreak

Friday December 23 2011

Director of Public Health and Sanitation Dr Shanaz Shariff addresses a news conference at Afya House December 23, 2011. He allayed fears of an Ebola outbreak following the death of a woman at Kenyatta National Hospital. JENNIFER MUIRURI

Director of Public Health and Sanitation Dr Shanaz Shariff addresses a news conference at Afya House December 23, 2011. He allayed fears of an Ebola outbreak following the death of a woman at Kenyatta National Hospital. JENNIFER MUIRURI 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO [email protected]

The Ministry of Health has allayed fears of an Ebola outbreak following the death of a woman at Kenyatta National Hospital.

At the same time, KNH Friday discharged three people who had been quarantined for being in contact with Ms Gladys Muthoni who died from excessive bleeding.

Findings by scientists from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) showed that there were no traces of Ebola or any other related infectious disease in the blood samples taken from the body of the woman.

“Blood specimen obtained was analysed in both KEMRI and CDC laboratories and is negative for all viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) including Ebola,” said Director of Public Health Sharif Shanaaz.

VHF is characterised by fever and bleeding which can lead to shock and death in most cases. They include Ebola, Yellow Fever, Marburg Fever and Rift Valley Fever among others.

For Ebola, normally, early signs of this infection start with tiredness, headache, sore throat then high fever before bleeding sets in from any body opening like the mouth, nose, vaginal opening or the anus.

Dr Shanaaz, told reporters in Nairobi that the 29-year-old woman, who was a restaurant attendant, might have died from bleeding possibly caused by stomach ulcer or a related ailment.

“Tests showed that the lady was not suffering from any infectious disease, but she was vomiting blood and indication that she might have had an ulcer.”

On Thursday, medics at the KNH Casualty department received Ms Muthoni in a state of heavy bleeding. Earlier suspicions were that the woman who died immediately on arrival was a victim of Ebola. According to Dr Shanaaz, the clinician who first examined the body at the country’s largest referral hospital suspected the disease “since her clothes were soaked with blood".

Three other people who had taken her there; her father, taxi driver and another relative were isolated in a special ward as the tests on the body were conducted.

According to a 2000 report by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, most VHFs are rare and unpredictable epidemics. Rodents like rats and mice and arthropods such as certain insects are the main reservoirs for this type of viruses.

Dr Shanaaz said medics are yet to find a cure for the diseases because their unpredictable nature makes it difficult to conduct experimental studies.

The Ministry’s Head of the Division of Disease Surveillance and Response Daniel Langat said that despite the results showing no traces of the dreaded Ebola, the government would continue to monitor the situation.

“Quarantine facilities will continue to be there to keep track of future incidences. But we would like to assure Kenyans and the entire public that we are all safe.”

In Africa, Ebola virus was first associated with an outbreak of 318 cases of a haemorrhagic disease the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Similar incidences have since been reported in Northern Uganda, DRC and even South Sudan.

In Kenya, there is yet to be any officially reported case.