NUMBER AT 68

Starehe girls diagnosed with mass hysteria

School isolated 52 girls following symptoms of high-pitched cough, sneezing and low-grade fever

In Summary

• Ministry dispatched a team of specialists from Mathare Mental Hospital to the school to conduct a psychological assessment of the affected students.

• The ministry has recommended Individual psychological evaluation of the affected students. 

Students of Starehe Girls Centre after their school was closed on October 3
MYSTERIOUS OUTBREAK: Students of Starehe Girls Centre after their school was closed on October 3
Image: MERCY MUMO

The 'mysterious' disease at Starehe Girls Centre is a case of mass hysteria, the Health ministry has said.

Fifty-two students were isolated following symptoms of high-pitched cough, sneezing and low-grade fever.

In a statement, the ministry on Friday said investigations into the cold indicated two cases of rhinovirus — the most common viral infectious agent in humans and is the predominant cause of the common cold

The team collected specimens that were tested at the National Public Health Laboratories. As of Wednesday, the number of affected girls had risen to 68.

The ministry dispatched a team of specialists from Mathare Mental Hospital to the school to conduct a psychological assessment of the affected students.

"The team drew a conclusion of mass psychogenic illness also called mass hysteria," the ministry said.

It has recommended individual psychological evaluation of the victims. This is meant to understand the trigger of the outbreak. The ministry also wants group therapy for the students, as well as staff and caregivers.

"There is a need for continuous counselling of the students, sensitisation and awareness creation on mental health and self-care to avert possible future occurrence." 

Edited by R.Wamochie