Kenya Govt Denies Ebola Virus Outbreak as Mysterious Fatal Disease Strikes in Nakuru Area
As the Tanzanian Government Issues an Alert for the same disease.
Out of fear of hurting a lucrative tourism industry and calming an apprehensive population, the Government of Kenya has denied that the mysterious disease that has so far killed two people in the Nakuru area (Rift Valley Province) is the dreaded Ebola Virus. An Assistant Minister for Health has on 18/Aug/2007 told a hushed house that there were possibilities that the dreaded Ebola Virus had found its way and infected people in parts of Nakuru District in Kuresoi constituency. The Assistant Minister had said in parliament that the deaths of two women in the area in bizarre circumstances could either be attributed to Ebola Virus or Rift Valley Fever.
However, on 19/Aug/2007, the Kenyan Deputy Director of Medical Services, Dr Shahhanaaz Sharif, confirmed to reporters that the disease “was not Ebola as there were no bleeding tendencies from the deceased”. This denial comes even as the Tanzanian Government issued an early warning to its citizens living near its borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Deputy DMS said said it was “highly unlikely” that the disease could have come to Kenya and skipped Uganda, which is closer to the DRC.
Three Kenyan women have died from a yet to be identified disease. The dead women lived 15km apart while the third was a student. The Deputy DMD told the press that three patients had similar symptoms of headache, fever and pain in the joints. “There were no signs of bleeding from the three patients and we have ruled out a case of Ebola,” Dr. Sharif said. The Deputy DMS confirmed that his ministry would issue a comprehensive report once the specimen collected have been tested.
As the Government was issuing the denial, another person was confirmed to have succumbed to a disease with similar symptoms in Molo within the same locality. A 58-year-old man died in Sirikwa on Tuesday night, tens of kilometres away from where the two women died.Rift Valley Province Medical Officer, Dr John Odondi, confirmed the death and said he had deployed inspectors to the affected areas.
TANZANIA: Health authorities issue Ebola alert
|The Ebola virus is highly contagious and often fatal|
Meanwhile, IRIN reports that Tanzanian health authorities have cautioned people living in regions neighbouring the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in the central African country.
Western Tanzanian regions bordering DRC include Mbeya, Rukwa, Kigoma and Kagera.
“All regional medical officers have been instructed to keep on alert because people from eastern parts of DRC enter into Tanzania through the four regions,” Wilson Mukama, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said in a statement.
Meanwhile the UN World Health Organization (WHO) clarified that while the latest figures released by various sources mention 375 cases and 167 deaths in western Kasai Province of DRC, the cause of death cannot be confirmed yet.
Of all of these cases and deaths, only one confirmed case of Shigella and less than 10 of Ebola have been registered.
“Everything else still remains to be investigated,” Gregory Hartl, WHO communications advisor, said from Geneva. WHO’s team in the area and its operations, he added, were growing by the day. “WHO is coordinating the international response, at the behest of the DRC ministry of health.”
Approximately 1,850 cases, with over 1,200 deaths, have been documented since the Ebola virus was first identified in the western equatorial province of Sudan, and in a nearby region of DRC in 1976, after significant epidemics in Yambuku, northern DRC and Nzara in southern Sudan.
Ebola, a haemorrhagic illness, which causes death in 50-90 percent of cases, is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
It is characterised by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is often followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.
Related story on this blog: