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Diseases The most common diseases in Kenya and how to treat them

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How to avoid contracting these deadly diseases...

Female Anopheles mosquito play Female Anopheles mosquito (CDC)

Kenya has striven to make strides in the health sector despite being rocked by a myriad of challenges. The Kenyan Health administration has taken the fight to reduce burden of disease higher. Kenya has taken bold steps like Beyond Zero campaign, equipping of county hospitals, expansion of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) e.t.c.

However despite all those efforts there are diseases which the Kenyan population is still grappling with. These are the most common diseases in Kenya according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

1. Hepatitis A

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Hepatitis A is a liver disease. The disease is caused by a virus known as the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). The virus is transmitted when uninfected (unvaccinated) person ingests food or water that is contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

WHO explains that the disease is closely associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. 

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A according to WHO. Instead they warn against unnecessary medication such as Paracetamol/Acetaminophen. Medication against vomiting should not be administered.

However they acknowledge that recovery from symptoms arising from infection is slow and may take weeks or even months.

WHO says that proper sanitation, food safety and immunization are the best ways to combat Hepatitis A.

2. Typhoid

Typhoid Fever is a systemic infection caused by a bacteria called Salmonella Typhi. It is majorly transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water. WHO indicates that acute Typhoid is characterized by prolonged fever, headache, loss of appetite and constipation or diarrhea.

To treat the disease you need to take antibiotics for a minimum of 10-14 days. There should also be a fluid and electrolyte replacement to replenish the body after vomiting and diarrhea.

Typhoid can be effectively prevented through vaccination, proper hygiene and sanitation.

3. Cholera

According to CDC Cholera is a disease spread by drinking water or eating food contaminated with Cholera bacteria. Cholera is characterized by severe diarrhea of water. Also known as “rice water” because of its pale milky appearance. Persons suffering from cholera will also experience nausea and vomiting.

“Simple treatment including replacement of lost fluids will lower the risk of death by Cholera to 1%,” writes the CDC.

CDC also adds that, “Antibiotics can shorten the length of illness and help prevent loss of fluids (dehydration) in people with cholera.”

4. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a contagious virus that is spread through transmission of blood, blood products and other body fluids. CDC notes that a person can contract Hepatitis B through unprotected sex with an infected person.

“Symptoms include a sudden fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dark urine, joint pain, and yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice),”  writes CDC.

CDC adds that symptoms may last for several weeks or months while some may get lifelong (chronic) Hepatitis B.

There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis B according to WHO. “Therefore, care is aimed at maintaining comfort and adequate nutritional balance, including replacement of fluids lost from vomiting and diarrhoea,”  writes WHO.

WHO adds that chronic Hepatitis B can be treated with medicines, including oral antiviral agents. “Treatment can slow the progression of cirrhosis, reduce incidence of liver cancer and improve long term survival,”  advises WHO.

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent contraction of Hepatitis B.

5. Malaria

According to WHO Malaria is a life-threatening disease that is caused by parasites. The parasites are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito.

Malaria is characterized by fever, headache and chills. Children with severe malaria may exhibit severe anaemia, respiratory distress in relation to metabolic acidosis, or cerebral malaria. Adults may suffer multi-organ involvement.

WHO recommends the use of insecticide-treated nets and indoor spraying with residual insecticides in order to prevent Malaria.

6. Rabies

Rabies is a zoonotic disease (a disease that is transmitted from animals to humans) that is caused by a virus as indicated by WHO. Rabies can be found in dogs, cats, bats and other mammals in Kenya.

“The virus is transmitted in the saliva of rabid animals and generally enters the body via infiltration of virus-laden saliva from a rabid animal into a wound (e.g. scratches), or by direct exposure of mucosal surfaces to saliva from an infected animal (e.g. bites),”  writes WHO.

WHO however interjects that Rabies is a 100% vaccine-preventable disease.

7. Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is caused by a virus (flavirus). The virus is transmitted to humans by bites of infected aedes and haemogogus mosquitoes.

WHO indicates that Yellow fever is characterized by fever, muscle pain with prominent back pain, headache, shivers, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting.

According to WHO there is no specific treatment for Yellow fever but only supportive care. WHO recommends supportive care that treats dehydration, fever and respiratory failure.

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