Parasitic Disease claims Three Children

The deadly Kala-azar outbreak that has hit several areas of Marsabit County has so far claimed three lives.

The county executive for health Mr Joseph Labarakwe confirmed the disease caused by sandflies has also left 37 victims admitted at the Marsabit county referral hospital who are undergoing what he described as strong management treatment.

The county executive said all the victims of the outbreak are children aged below five.

Mr Labarakwe told KNA at the hospital that the department was experiencing a big challenge because the expensive anti kala-azar drugs can only be sourced outside the country in France, South Africa or Denmark.

He added that the ministry of health has chipped in with a consignment of test kits and drugs but which could only sustain the hospital for the next one week.

Mr Labarakwe said that treatment of kala-azar is costly in both medicine and time as a patient must be under treatment for 30 days and in a hospital.

He disclosed that 49 cases have been handled at the hospital in the last two and half months adding that more assistance was being sought from the ministry of health and other stakeholders like UNICEF.

We are currently facing an acute shortage of kala-azar testing kits while the drug consignment that we got from the ministry of health cannot sustain us for more than a week, Mr Labarakwe said adding that if proper diagnosis is not done the disease is highly lethal.

The county executive said measures have been taken to bring the situation under control including spraying areas infested with the sandflies with pesticides.

He said that several teams of public health officers have pitched tents in those areas conducting the spraying and educating the villagers on how to manage the situation.

These areas include Shurr, Kargi, Korr and Gudhas. Other areas area Hawaye, Loglogo and Baalar among others.

We have identified specific homesteads which public health officers are making efforts to secure from any threats of falling victims of this deadly kala-azar, he said.

The county executive said the female sand-fly that transmits the disease only bites at night and advised residents of Marsabit County to always sleep under treated nets.

The disease that hit Marsabit for first time in 2014 before subsiding is alleged to have originated from Southern Sudan.

According to Mr Labarakwe, at first the outbreak was mistaken for malaria because its symptoms that include joint pains and fever are similar to those exhibited by malaria victims.

It was until test by the Kenya medical research institute (KEMRI) proved it otherwise that it was established that there was an outbreak of Kala-azar.

Source: Kenya News Agency