The first case of a cholera outbreak in Kenya was reported in 2017 and was in Tana River County. It started in October 2016 and by April 2017 it had been fully controlled.
Although cholera is a word that sends shivers down the spine of any person, most people who are not residents of Tana River county were relieved and thought that it was too far. Residents of that county, on the other hand, were relieved that it had been contained and that life would go back to normal.
However, a common Swahili saying that goes cha mwenzio kikinyolewa na chako kitie maji (when someone else’s head is being shaved you should also prepare yours) was brought life by the subsequent events. The saying means if you see your neighbor going through something, you should be prepared once it knocks on your door.
After Tana River County, came Garissa County on 2nd April, other counties such as Nairobi, Murang’a, Vihiga, Mombasa, Turkana, Kericho, Nakuru, Kiambu, and Narok. The outbreaks are mainly in densely populated areas such as cities and in refugee camps such as Dadaab, Hagadera, Dagahaleh, Kakuma, and Kalobeyei.
On June 22nd the Weston Hotel cases were reported where participants attending a conference had been taken ill. According to the World Health Organization, about 146 cases have so far been treated in various hospitals.
A second outbreak occurred at the China Trade Fair held at the KICC Tsavo Ball between 10 and 12 July 2017. A total of 136 cases were reported and one person lost their life.
At the moment, the cholera outbreak is in Garissa and Nairobi and WHO says As of 17 July 2017, a total of 1216 suspected cases including 14 deaths (case fatality rate: 1.2%) have been reported since 1 January 2017. In the week ending 16 July 2017, a total of 38 cases with no deaths were reported.
Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae present in faecally contaminated water or food. It is primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and adequate sanitation.
The condition is considered a potentially serious infectious disease and can cause high morbidity and mortality. It has the potential to spread rapidly, depending on the exposure frequency, population exposed and the context.
The main causative factors of the current outbreak include the high population density that is conducive to the propagation and spread of the disease, mass gatherings (a wedding party held in Karen and in a hotel during an international conference), low access to safe water and proper sanitation and the massive population movements in country and with neighboring countries.
It Is a fact that cholera is here with us and it is spreading and WHO recommends, improving the readiness of counties and health facilities to early detect and respond to the cholera outbreak as well as the reinforcement of coordination and multisectoral approaches.
In addition, hygiene practices in households, restaurant, hotels, refugee camps and health facilities should be improved and food safety interventions should be strengthened.
Here are some of the ways that you can use to prevent the disease from affecting your family members.
1. There is something about food or snacks that are prepared on the roadside, they are usually very delicious. The bad news is that you may have to temporarily stop eating them until the situation is contained. Just say bye to mutura (Africa sausages), samosa, bhajia, chips, sugar cane and so on.
2. Ensure cleanliness everywhere in your home. This especially goes to homes with children because they keep touching surfaces and this includes those in the toilets, bathrooms, verandah and so on. Bodily cleanliness is essential as well and as far as this disease is concerned, you may need to take care of the
3. Ensure drinking water is boiled or purified before drinking. Yeah I know sometimes we get busy and say just one glass, only for a day then I will boil water tomorrow. That one day or glass might cost you so much if the water is not clean enough. Ensure everybody n the house drinks boiled water. Some people do not like the taste of boiled water but you need to remember that cholera is contagious.
4. Be very careful with fruits and vegetables as well because some vendors do not wash them properly or use dirty water to prepare them. You might just kill your entire family this disease if you are not careful in this regard.
5. Avoid eating salads and this is especially when you go to hotels, parties, weddings or other places whose food was prepared by other people.
6. Regardless of how hot it is, do not eat things like ice cream
7. Please avoid sea food as well when dining out and ensure that every meal you take is served when very hot.
8. Do not go swimming unless you have ensured that the water you will be using is regularly chlorinated
9. Ensure that there is no dirty or sewage water outside your house because once the children touch it or play in it, they will get affected and it will get everybody in the house.