Nairobi & Kiambu likely to witness a resurgence of Cholera, medics warn

The highly infectious and deadly Cholera disease is making a comeback worldwide, case documented in Kibera

3D illustration of cholera pathogens in dark polluted water

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of an upsurge in cholera cases worldwide, with 29 countries reporting outbreaks so far this year and a fatality rate that appears to be nearly triple the average of the past five years.

Nairobi and Kiambu, Kenya's top two most populous counties, both recently recorded an outbreak with medics now preparing for a possible resurgence in reported cases.

The Ministry of Health has also confirmed outbreaks in Kajiado and Nakuru.

Medics from non-profit organisation CFK Africa, which operates a clinic in Nairobi's Kibera informal settlement, have documented a case of the disease in the area.

"Cholera can spread rapidly, and it can be life-threatening, especially in informal settlements that do not have strong infrastructure. Our goal is to monitor the disease closely so that we can notify the Ministry of Health and intervene quickly and effectively if it starts to spread," the organisation's Executive Director Hillary Omala stated.

Omala added: "The good news is that there are effective treatments for cholera, and we know how it spreads. With the right interventions, we can keep these outbreaks limited."

Cholera is spread by drinking or eating contaminated water or food. Symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, which lead to death within hours if not treated properly.

The alert comes after WHO's International Coordinating Group (ICG) announced a temporary suspension of the standard two-dose vaccination regimen in cholera outbreak response campaigns, only a single dose is now being administered.

"Of the total 36 million doses forecast to be produced in 2022, 24 million have already been shipped for preventive (17%) and reactive (83%) campaigns and an additional 8 million doses were approved by the ICG for the second round for emergency vaccination in 4 countries, illustrating the dire shortage of the vaccine.

"As vaccine manufacturers are producing at their maximum current capacity, there is no short-term solution to increase production," WHO said in a statement on October 19, 2022.

On the global stage, Haiti, Malawi and Syria have been flagged as facing 'large outbreaks' of cholera.

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