Alert issued as plague, Marburg hit region


Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya has intensified surveillance on visitors coming from Madagascar in the wake of reports that more than 102 people had died of plague in the island nation.

Similar measures have been put in place for those coming into Kenya from Uganda where an outbreak of Marburg virus disease (MVD) has been reported.

Aircraft from the two countries and ships docking in from Madagascar must now submit health declaration forms and sanitation certificates at points of entry, Kenyan authorities said.

Reports from Madagascar indicated that more than 100 of the 1,100 people reported to have been infected by plague since August had died as of Monday.

Two people were reported to have succumbed to MVD in Uganda, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“In order to prevent importation of these diseases, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with stakeholders have undertaken some measures, including screening of travellers and crew members of vessels from the two countries on arrival,” said Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko.

“We have intensified active case search in counties bordering the epicentre of the outbreak. However, no single case of the two diseases has been reported in Kenya.” The MVD outbreak was reported in Kween District of Eastern Uganda, near the border with Bungoma County.

Marburg is transmitted to humans through exposure to mines or caves inhabited by bats and consumption of bush meat or physical contact with an infected person.

Dr Kioko said the department of health has put all health institutions, including private facilities, on high alert at all points of entry and within border counties such as Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot.

A WHO risk assessment classified Kenya as a “moderate risk of potential spread due to travel interconnection with Madagascar”. There are over 20 weekly flights between Madagascar and Kenya.

Dr Kioko said the increased air travel could facilitate the spread of disease – especially because of the short time taken to travel between the two countries.

Plague may be transmitted to humans through bites of infected fleas, direct contact with infected fluids or tissues (either human or other infected animals), and inhalation of infected respiratory droplets.