2,788 CASES REPORTED

Kala-azar killed 34 people in Northeastern this year

Outbreak still active in Marsabit and Garissa, 23 people in Marsabit and two in Garissa currently on treatment

In Summary

• Affected subcounties are Laisamis with 2,019 cases, Moyale (55), North Horr (112) and Saku (64) all suspected and confirmed. 

• WHO lists kala-azar as one of the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases that affect more than one billion people globally.  

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki
NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASE: Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki
Image: MAGDALENE SAYA

Four counties Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera have reported 2,788 kala-azar cases, the Health ministry has said. 

The Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Response Unit said Marsabit had the highest number of deaths at 19 since January, out of the 657 cases reported. 

The disease, also known as visceral leshmaniasis, is caused by a protozoan parasite. It's spread b the bite of a female sand fly that lives in anti hills and mud houses.

Nine died in Wajir out of 470 cases reported, while Garissa and Mandera recorded three and one deaths, respectively. 

The four affected subcounties are Laisamis with 2,019 cases, Moyale (55), North Horr (112) and Saku (64) — all suspected and confirmed. 

A ministry team is carrying out field investigations to ensure the situation is under control.

The national government has provided technical guidelines and fact sheets. County health departments are undertaking enhanced surveillance, detection, confirmation and managing of cases as well as community awareness.

Garissa has reported 47 confirmed cases from Balambala subcounty.

The report warns the outbreak is still active in Marsabit and Garissa with 23 people in Marsabit and two in Garissa currently on treatment.

Mandera and Wajir have not reported new cases.

Problems include lack of stock of rapid test kids, lack of vector control chemicals and limited drugs for proper treatment.

The sandfly feeds on animal and human blood which it needs to develop eggs.

It bites between dusk and dawn. Symptoms include enlargement of the spleen, loss of weight and sometimes anaemia.

The World Health Organization lists kala-azar as one of the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The diseases affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars annually.

Globally, 300,000 new cases are reported annually with 40,000 resulting in deaths.

An estimated 90 per cent of the cases are reported in Bangladesh, Kenya, India, Nepal, Brazil, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Last year, the ministry revised the guidelines for health workers in the diagnosis and management of kala-azar.

Clinical trials have shown that the use of paromomycin (an antimicrobial used to treat parasitic infections) together with sodium stibogluconate (sold generally as Pentostam) reduces death and other complications during treatment and reduces the treatment time from 30 to 17 days. 

Few gains have been made in eradication of the disease as many of those treated return home where the sand-flies are and are likely to catch the disease again.

 

Edited by R.Wamochie