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26 people with cholera kept in isolation ward

Friday June 23 2017

Dr Joseph Aluoch, chairman of the Kenya International Scientific Lung Health cjolera

Dr Joseph Aluoch, chairman of the Kenya International Scientific Lung Health Conference organising committee, addresses the media after the closing of the forum at Weston Hotel on June 23, 2017. He said several participants are being treated for cholera. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

EUNICE KILONZO
By EUNICE KILONZO
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Nearly 26 people are in an isolation ward at Nairobi Hospital with cholera after they ate lunch on Tuesday served during a health conference that ended today.

Three of those admitted are doctors. One other person is critically ill and undergoing dialysis due to kidney failure following severe dehydration.

In total, there are 33 people admitted in various Nairobi hospitals with cholera.

WESTON HOTEL

Another person who ate at the forum, a UK national who is a doctor, suffered severe bouts of diarrhoea and vomiting and is said to have flown back home for treatment, albeit not recommended as it puts others at risk.

The patients were part of the 500 delegates drawn from different nationalities who were attending the 4th Kenya International Scientific Lung Health Conference at the Weston hotel in Nairobi.

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“During the conference, some people developed severe vomiting and diarrhoea and general ill health.

"This happened almost immediately after a meal on Tuesday. Almost all those who ate seemed to have been affected even those who only came to the conference on Tuesday when it was being opened,” Dr Joseph Aluoch, who was the chairman of the Conference Organising Committee, said.

He said the symptoms were “consistent with cholera”.

FOOD POISONING
Dr Aluoch said the source of the infection is suspected to have been from a “packed lunch which contained fish”, which may have been contaminated with the cholera bacteria.

Dr Aluoch added: “As a doctor, it’s clear to me the symptoms are consistent with cholera. We don’t need to wait for any culture report before we start treating them for cholera..”

This differs from the position held by the Health ministry that the diarrhoea and vomiting were due to food poisoning and ruled out cholera, which was suspected by most of the delegates who are health practitioners.

Instead, the ministry today said it would not settle for the cholera diagnosis until it was confirmed in the laboratory.