Mombasa man dies of cholera as his wife fights for her life

Saturday December 30 2017

Garbage in Mombasa.

Mombasa County trucks clearing garbage at Uwanja wa Mbuzi on November 26, 2017. The county has been urged to maintain high standards of hygiene to prevent disease outbreaks. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A man has died of cholera in Likoni, Mombasa County, while his wife is battling for her life at a cholera treatment centre.

More than 10 other cholera patients are undergoing treatment at various public and private hospitals as the county’s Health department looks for ways of containing the outbreak.


“He died at Shika Adabu and the wife is still fighting for her life at the same facility. Her condition has deteriorated,” said a source at the facility.

The death toll has risen to six in a span of two months.

The cholera outbreak was reported in October when the first case was detected in Jomvu Sub-County.

Health officials in Mombasa attributed the infections to contaminated food and water.


The death comes at a time when the county is on high alert over suspected cases of dengue fever, chikungunya and o’nyong-nyong virus.

According to the County Chief Health Officer Khadija Shikely, blood samples have been collected and sent to the Kenya Medical Research Institute laboratories in Nairobi for further tests.

Dr Shikely said the diseases might go unrecognised, hence many people could be infected.

“We have noted increased cases of fever in various hospitals within the county suspected as dengue fever and chikungunya. The diseases present [themselves] with sudden onset of high fever, severe joint pains, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and general body weakness,” said Dr Shikely.


She urged the residents to report to nearest health facility for treatment and further examination.

“The disease is usually spread by mosquitoes that bite during the day,” she added.

Dr Shikely advised residents, to destroy all breeding sites within their compounds and work places, and avoid staying in dark corners were mosquitoes may hide. She also encouraged residents to use repellants to keep off the mosquitoes.

In a memo sent to County Health Chiefs including all Medical Superintendents, Sub County Ministry of Health Officers and the Chief Administrator Coast Provincial General Hospital Dr Iqbal Khandwalla, Dr Shikely urged the health department to be alert over the viruses.


Dr Shikely also ordered that all patients with high fever should be screened for dengue fever and malaria.

“The Department of Health Services has received reports of cases of signs and symptoms of chikungunya and o'nyong-nyong virus; haemogram is normal with mild decreased white blood cells and negative for malaria dengue,” read part of the letter.

“Be alert and vigilant. Any suspected case should be notified and investigated. Proper detailed history should be taken and reports made to the nearest Medical Officer of Health,” added Dr Shikely.


Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rashes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), o’nyong-nyong virus (ONNV) is mosquito-borne.

The virus was first isolated in June 1959 from serum samples from febrile patients in the northern province of Uganda. It is primarily transmitted by anopheline mosquitoes.

Despite the virus’ potential to cause large outbreaks, its endemicity in East Africa, and at least sporadic occurrence in West Africa, imported cases to other areas have not been reported.


Mombasa county government established cholera treatments centres two months ago to curb the spread of the highly infectious disease. Majority of the cases were reported in Jomvu and Changamwe sub-Counties.

The disease had spread to Kilifi and Kwale counties after four patients from the areas received treatment in Mombasa.

Residents have been urging the county to eradicate the disease by clearing garbage and maintaining high standards of hygiene.

Collection and disposal of garbage has been a big challenge in Mombasa.


When it rains heavily in Mombasa, hospitals usually receive a number of patients suffering from cholera or cholera-like symptoms. The outbreak was triggered by rains and flooding. 

The Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) Secretary-General Abbas Gullet linked heaps of uncollected garbage choking most counties to frequent cholera outbreaks.

He said 18 counties have had cholera outbreaks since January.