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February 21, 2018

Papaya leaves ‘will not’ cure chikungunya

Pawpaws at a farm./MONICAH MWANGI
Pawpaws at a farm./MONICAH MWANGI

The Ministry of Health has urged Mombasa residents with chikungunya to stop overeating paw paw leaves in the belief it will cure the disease. In fact, it could be harmful to the kidneys.

Instead, residents have been told to seek medical attention. Thirty-two cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in the county. Four hundred and thirty five cases are yet to be confirmed.

No deaths have been reported. The disease has affected all the six subcounties in Mombasa with Mvita having the highest number of cases reported at 140. The other subcounties include Changamwe, 65, Jomvu, 43, Likoni, 104, Kisauni, 63 and Nyali 20.

Rarely fatal

During a health symposium on Friday, Prof Rodney Adam, a disease specialist at the Department of Pathology at the Aga Khan University, said the disease rarely causes death but has negative effects.

“The main problem is that the illness lasts for days or even weeks, and some people have joint swelling for months or even more than a year,” he said.

The county government said it will meet regularly to review the situation. Fogging and indoor residual spraying is being conducted to contain the disease.

What is chikungunya?

According to WHO, chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952.

It is a virus that belongs to the alphavirus genus. The name chikungunya derives from a word in the kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted”, and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.

Chikungunya is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The joint pain is often debilitating, but usually lasts a few days or may be prolonged to weeks. The virus can cause acute.

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