Cholera Outbreak Strikes Kenya After Devastating Floods



By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter

Kenya map

Map of Afria showing the location of Kenya



MONDAY MAY 06, 2024. The heavy rains and floods that have ravaged parts of Kenya in recent weeks have now led to a cholera outbreak, posing a serious public health threat.


According to Mary Muthoni, Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary, the destruction of sanitation facilities by the floods has contaminated water sources with fecal matter.


"Contaminated water sources are infiltrating homes and displacing communities, heightening the risk of exposure to cholera-causing bacteria. Urgent actions are required to mitigate the impact of this outbreak and prevent further spread of the disease," Muthoni stated.


The cholera cases were first reported in Tana River County with 32 cases in Garsen west ward and 2 cases in Garsen central ward. However, Muthoni warned that other counties have yet to report their cases suggesting the outbreak could be more widespread.


Cholera, a bacterial disease caused by ingesting contaminated food or water, can lead to severe dehydration and even death if left untreated. "If you are in an area without access to water, there is a risk of consuming unwashed food and eating without cleaning your hands. This can result in ingestion of fecal matter," Muthoni cautioned.


The floods have created ideal breeding grounds for cholera bacteria in contaminated water sources, putting displaced communities at heightened risk. Many rescue camps lack proper sanitation facilities, further exacerbating the problem.


Public health expert Dr. Ojwang Lusi emphasized the need for public education on the risks and severity of cholera. "All we need to do is start educating people on the risk that comes with poor handling of food, they also need to observe hygiene by boiling water before drinking."


In response to the outbreak, public health campaigns have been launched to raise awareness about cholera prevention and proper hygiene practices. Communities are being advised to boil or treat drinking water, practice regular handwashing and seek immediate medical attention for symptoms of cholera.


"Waterborne diseases including cholera are indeed severe but they are also preventable. Understanding that early detection and prompt medical attention can make a significant difference, potentially saving lives is crucial," Muthoni stated.


As Kenya grapples with the aftermath of the devastating floods, the cholera outbreak serves as a stark reminder of the importance of access to clean water, proper sanitation and public health education in preventing the spread of waterborne diseases.


Source: Nation Media Group.


Related: Cholera in the Africa Setting: What is it, who gets it and how to treat and prevent it?




Published: May 06, 2024

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