Four people have been confirmed dead following the outbreak of Kala azar in Marsabit County.
The disease is normally characterised by weight loss, fever, anaemia and the enlargement of the liver and spleen.
The latest Marsabit victims, three children and an elderly person, were residents of Laisamis Sub-County.
According to county executive committee (CEC) member for Health Jama Wolde, three children died on Tuesday as an elderly man succumbed to the disease on Wednesday night at the Marsabit County Referral Hospital.
He said that since March, 44 people have been admitted to the hospital and tested positive for Kala azar.
They came from Log logo, Kor and Laisamis.
Since then, the hospital has been overwhelmed, resulting to the opening of another admission centre at Laisamis Sub-County Hospital.
Out of the 44 cases, seven people have since been treated and discharged while three are hospitalised and are responding well to treatment.
Dr Wolde said that the current upsurge of the disease could have been aggravated by the famine that has hit the county, making the hungry residents vulnerable.
He said that the disease is vector borne and is spread by a female sand fly known as phlebotomine that needs human blood for its eggs to develop.
The sand fly is said to favour anthills, cracks on mud walls, seasonal river beds which are common in Laisamis and cow dung.
Dr Wolde said that not all people bitten by the female sand fly get infected but the vulnerable groups like malnourished children and the elderly are highly at risk due to their poor body immunity.
COSTLY TO TREAT
He said the ravaging drought that has hit 13 counties in Kenya could be one cause of the rise of Kala azar in Marsabit County.
While addressing journalists in his office, Dr Wolde decried the debilitating effects of the disease, more so on the socio-economic fabrics of the society.
He said that it is the low income earners who bear the brunt of the disease as it is costly to treat.
Dr Wolde explained that Kala azar’s vector takes between one and three weeks to incubate thus making it difficult to diagnose immediately.
He also attributed the nomadic lifestyle of the residents as a contributory factor as they get exposed to areas with high chances of infections.
The CEC said that enough drugs and reagents have been procured from Baringo County and Denmark to aid in combating the tropical disease.
He also said that enough repellents have been distributed to known hotspots in order to keep the sand fly at bay.