Kenya is among countries that the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned last week were at the risk of a Marburg virus outbreak after cases of the Ebola-like disease were reported in neighbouring Uganda.
But despite the disease having claimed lives across the border, confusing statements by health authorities about their investigations of a suspected case in Trans Nzoia County do not inspire confidence that they are doing enough to keep the country free of the disease.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) on Wednesday said that samples taken from Fridah Etyang’, the Kenyan herbalist who hosted a Ugandan confirmed to have died of the Marburg virus in her homestead, tested negative.
For his part, Emmanuel Wanjala, the medical superintendent at Kitale County Hospital, said that Ms Etyang’ and her family had been quarantined, suggesting that the investigations were inconclusive.
Another cause of worry is the lax health monitoring system that allowed the Ugandan victim to find his way deep into a Kenyan village even after cases of the disease had been reported back in his country.
The government simply has to step up screening of people coming in or leaving the country if it hopes to keep Marburg out.