High alert over cholera outbreak in Kisumu

Kisumu County health chiefs were Tuesday on high alert after two people died and 21 more admitted to hospitals after an outbreak of cholera.

In the latest incident that threatens the health of the country, about three dozen inmates inside Kodiaga Maximum Prison were also hospitalised with diarrhoea and vomiting, symptoms associated with waterborne diseases like cholera.
Kisumu County Director of Health Dr Ojwang Lusi confirmed the outbreak but said his colleagues were rushing to stop the incident from blowing out of control.

At a time when nurses are on strike, an outbreak beyond the control of the available skeleton medical staff could become a crisis no one wants to handle.

Dr Lusi said that one of the victims was a trader who died on Monday night after he was rushed to Port Florence Hospital with diarrhoea and other symptoms similar to cholera.

Tests later confirmed the man was suffering from the deadly water-borne disease.

Dead on arrival
According to the Port Florence Hospital Administrator Dr Harrison Ouko, the man identified as Fred Ochieng was rushed to the hospital on Monday evening with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

“The deceased was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. We have quarantined the area the deceased was admitted. The body is at Port Florence Mortuary,” said Dr Ouko.

Dr Lusi said 34 prisoners with symptoms of cholera were admitted to the Kodiaga prison's health facility over the weekend.

Regional Prison Commander Amos Misik said they alerted the public health officers on Sunday over Kodiaga prison inmates with symptoms of stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhoea.

“The Ministry of Health came in and gave medication to the inmates. The 34 prisoners were treated and have been discharged. Currently, we have suspended transfers of prisoners until we are safe from the cholera epidemic,” said Misik.

The prison currently holds 2,000 inmates, more than twice its capacity of 800.

Killed 34 inmates

In 2009, a cholera outbreak at the facility killed 34 inmates in a week in a case blamed on contaminated water, congestion and lack of sufficient sanitation facilities.

Environmental activists in the community have cited the river flowing near the prison as a possible source of the cholera outbreak in the area.

Magnam Environmental Network Director Micheal Nyangati accused the prisons of discharging sewer system into River Saka, which is used by community as source of water.

“Over the years we had cases of cholera outbreak in the area. We suspect the river flowing from the prisons could be leading source of the disease,” said Nyangati.

However the regional prison commander denied the allegation that the prison was discharge raw sewage into the river.

Cholera outbreak has affected Nairobi and 11 other counties.

Recently, the Ministry of Health formed a taskforce to contain the spread of the disease.