MINISTRY OF HEALTH OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL FOR HEALTH PRESS RELEASE ON AN OUTBREAK OF UNKNOWN DISEASE IN KAKAMEGA COUNTY
Date of Release: 14th April, 2023
The Ministry of Health wishes to bring to the attention of the general public a reported outbreak of a possible infectious disease in Mukumu Girls and Butere Boys High Schools in Kakamega County.
Upon receipt of the above information, the Ministry dispatched an investigation team on 1st April 2023 from National level to support the Kakamega County team. The team was further backed by a high-level visit of multiagency team led by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, and included the Principal Secretary for the State Department of Basic Education, the Governor of Kakamega County, Western Regional Commissioner and the County Health, Education and Security teams.
The disease presents with fever, abdominal pain/cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. Comprehensive investigations are currently underway but data analyzed so far indicates that the disease seems to have started on 1st March 2023. As at 14th April 2023, 627 patients have been taken ill; while nineteen (19) students are currently admitted in 7 health facilities across the country, all of who are in stable condition. Unfortunately, we have lost 4 patients to this illness. We at the Ministry of Health send our heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones.
The Ministry of Education and Kakamega County Government have since closed the two affected schools as further investigations continue. The Ministry of Health has taken several water, food and human tissue samples, from which preliminary laboratory investigations undertaken have revealed Enterotoxigenic E. coli and Salmonella typhi as the causes of the illness. Further laboratory investigations carried out on the grains and pulses for aflatoxin have turned negative for aflatoxicosis-a dangerous fungal
infection from poorly stored cereal grains. In addition, laboratory tests for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHFS) including Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), Leptospirosis and Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and West Nile Virus have all turned negative. The Ministry is conducting further analysis on these samples to ascertain any other potential cause of this illness, and will communicate the finding of these tests.
The Ministry wishes to inform the general public that this disease is likely to be a mixture of E. coli and Salmonella typhi which usually occurs if water sources are contaminated with these micro-organisms. The diseases have high potential of person to person spread especially in congregate settings where people live and eat in close proximity.
To further forestall spread of the infection in the surrounding community in Mukumu and Butere, and to the general public, including students and staff in schools, the Ministry calls on members of the public to observe the following public health measures;
- Maintain high standards of personal hygiene by washing hands with soap and running water,
- Treat or boil all water for drinking and cooking
- Properly use toilets to safely dispose feces
- To properly cook all food and eat it while still hot.
The Ministry appeals to all members of the public to be vigilant, and requests that anyone experiencing fever, abdominal pains/cramps, diarrhea and vomiting should seek immediate treatment at the nearest health facility for assessment and prompt management. For any enquiries call the following emergency numbers, 0729471414 or 0732353535 or 719.
The Ministry of Health is committed and shall remain vigilant to ensure that Kenyans are well informed and protected against any public health threats including infectious diseases and that the citizens continue to receive quality health services.