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Ministry of Health addresses outbreak of unknown disease in Mukumu Girls High Sch

The Ministry of Health says the disease is likely to be a mixture of two or more bacteria

A collage of Mukumu Girls High School sign post and Ministry of Health Director General Ptrick Amoth

The Ministry of Health has reported an outbreak of a possible infectious disease in Mukumu Girls and Butere Boys High Schools in Kakamega County.

According to a statement by Ag Director of Health Patrick Amoth, the disease presents with fever, abdominal pain/cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

As at April 14, 627 patients have been taken ill; while nineteen (19) students are currently admitted in 7 health facilities across the country.

He said the patients are in stable condition. Unfortunately, four patients have succumbed to this illness.

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The ministry said that the 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.

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.

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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 causes of this illness and will communicate the findings of these tests.

To further prevent the 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 has called on members of the public to observe the following public health measures:

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• 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 has appealled to all members of the public to be vigilant and urged that anyone experiencing fever, abdominal pains/cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting to seek immediate treatment at the nearest health facility for assessment and prompt management.

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