WATERBORNE DISEASES, RVF

Public health officers urged to be on high alert

Kenya Livestock Marketing Council chairman Dubat Amey says there could be disease outbreaks following massive flooding in arid and semi-arid lands.

In Summary

• Heavy rains have continued pounding different parts of the country, with some regions being cut off by floods.

• Heavy rains have continued pounding different parts of the country, with some region being cut off by floods.

Camels drink water in Kuno, Balambala subcounty, Garissa, on Saturday.
RED ALERT: Camels drink water in Kuno, Balambala subcounty, Garissa, on Saturday.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The departments of Veterinary Services and Public Health, among other agencies, in arid and semi-arid areas have been asked to be on high alert to avert possible disease outbreaks.

The regions have been ravaged by floods, which have led to massive deaths of animals and loss of property. There are fears the deadly Rift Valley Fever and waterborne diseases could emerge.

Kenya Livestock Marketing Council chairman Dubat Amey on Sunday said lessons from the past show that disease outbreaks follow heavy flooding, hence necessary measures must be put in place to protect residents and their livestock. He spoke to the press in Garissa town. 

"Livestock disease outbreak will not only affect the pastoralists but the entire country, as well as the economy. RVF is one of the diseases that could arise in these counties,” Amey said.

"These counties are the major suppliers of meat to the country and if not properly monitored could lead to death before we realise it. The disease is known to also affect human beings and in the past has led to the death and loss of export market in the Middle East.

"We don’t want, as has been in the past by government departments and other agencies, responses only after emergencies have occurred. The government, both national and counties, should avert any eventualities by being pro-active." 

Heavy rains have continued in different parts of the country, with some regions getting marooned by floods. The Meteorological department has warned of more showers this month. Amey appealed for increased disease surveillance and controls in the worst-hit counties of Garissa, Wajir, Turkana, Isiolo, Mandera and Marsabit, among other regions.

Residents are at risk of contracting waterborne diseases given that food and clean water are not available as roads have been rendered impassable, he said.

"It will be very expensive if we start acting when the situation has gone out of control. We need to act now. The veterinary and public health departments should start monitoring the situation and put control measures in place," Amey said.

Perennial drought has weakened livestock, many of which could not withstand downpours in the recent past.

"These counties were devastated by droughts that claimed livestock and affected the health of over two million people from this region. The floods have added to their miseries," he said.

(Edited by F'Orieny)