Kenya Attributes Rise in Respiratory Cases to Seasonal Influenza


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Reporter



MOH_KenyalogoSATURDAY, March 30, 2024 - Health authorities in Kenya are assuring the public that the recent surge in respiratory illnesses nationwide is due to an expected seasonal spike in influenza, not a new COVID-19 variant as some feared.


"Our surveillance has detected an uptick in influenza cases, which we see annually around this time, not an increase in SARS-CoV-2 numbers," said Acting Director-General of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth at a briefing Thursday.


He dismissed reports linking the rise in respiratory infections to a new COVID variant dubbed "Glade JN1", stating there have been no significant changes in hospitalizations or deaths that would signal a novel coronavirus threat.


"We've been monitoring flu for two decades - cases occur year-round but peak between February-March and July-November," Amoth explained. "The current rise aligns with expected seasonal influenza patterns."


While typically milder than COVID-19, the flu can still prove severe, especially for high-risk groups like the elderly, pregnant women, young children and those with underlying conditions.  


"Influenza infections are usually self-limiting but may result in severe disease or death among high-risk individuals," Amoth cautioned, urging vigilance for worsening symptoms requiring medical care.


To limit flu transmission, the health ministry advised taking familiar precautions like frequent handwashing, mask-wearing and avoiding close contact with sick individuals. Amoth also encouraged flu vaccination when possible.


"Special attention should be given to cases showing breathing difficulties, suspected infection among vulnerable groups," he stated.


By taking reasonable protective steps during this seasonal spike, Kenyans can help curb flu spread and prevent excessive strain on the healthcare system, Amoth emphasized.


The situation underscores the need for continued influenza monitoring and preparedness, even as COVID-19 risks potentially diminish over time.


"It's an annual occurrence we're accustomed to managing, not a new threat," Amoth said. "But we must stay vigilant and take proper precautions against this seasonal visitor.”





Published: March 30, 2024

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