MILD RESPIRATORY INFECTION

Quarantine: Starehe Girls flu 'under control'

Respiratory infections travel fast but doctors say there's no reason to panic.

In Summary

•It's unlikely to be acute because none of the girls had developed a severe acute respiratory infection.

• The school has already made plans for more infections because viral infections spread fast.

Starehe Girls Centre students at a past event.
SCARE: Starehe Girls Centre students at a past event.
Image: COURTESY

Starehe Girls has quarantined 52 students with symptoms of respiratory illness, believed to be a mild flu.

More infections are expected as respiratory ailments are highly contagious and spread fast.

About 600 girls are enrolled in the prestigious institution in Kiambu county. The staff numers anothers 50.

Fewer than 10 students reported the illness on Tuesday last week but the number rose steadily throughout the week.

School director Sister Jane Soita said that by Tuesday 52 students had been isolated, and had flu-like symptoms such as high-pitched cough, sneezing and low-grade fever.

"We are working closely with the Ministry of Health, Department of Integrated Disease Surveillance Response and the Nairobi subcounty Health department to contain the situation," she said. 

Yesterday the school sent samples for further tests in government laboratories. the results will be ready in two days.

"Their guardians and parents have been informed and we are in constant communication with them," Soita said. 

There is no cause for panic. Since the first girls were diagnosed seven days ago we've been monitoring each cohort. But none has developed any acute respiratory infection.
Dr Martin Osumba, public health specialist 

"We assure the students, parents and the general public that we are working round the clock to monitor and stabilise the situation," she said in a statement. 

The situation is being coordinated by former students of the Starehe Boys Centre led by public health specialist Dr Martin Osumba.

Yesterday, Dr Osumba said the situation is under control and they suspect the illness is a mild, viral flu.

"What we are now trying to establish is the particular pathogen," he said. 

"But the symptoms are in keeping with viral flu."

Dr Osumba said the affected girls have been quarantined in the school sanatorium, but the flu was likely to spread and they are ready for more infections. 

He called for calm saying it was unlikely to be acute because none of the girls had developed a severe acute respiratory infection.

"So there is no cause for panic. Since the first girls were diagnosed seven days ago we've been monitoring each cohort. But none has developed any acute respiratory infection," he said. 

He said the school has already made plans for more infections because viral infections spread fast.

Starehe Girls Centre came into the limelight in February 2005, a month after it was started, when the late Mama Lucy Kibaki led a fundraiser that saw the first group of students get learning and boarding facilities.

About 98 per cent of girls at the school join university every year, school results show.

(Edited by V. Graham)