Relief in Kenya as Swine Flu tests negative

June 27, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 27 – The latest suspected case of Swine Flu in Kenya tested negative on Saturday after momentarily spreading panic across Nairobi.

Ministry of Public Health officials said tests conducted at the Kenya Medical Research Institute – based Centre for Disease Control produced no traces of the H1N1 influenza virus.

Samples were taken from a female traveler who had arrived in Nairobi from the US on Friday and complained of sickness.

She was rushed to the AAR Health Clinic at Sarit Centre, Westlands where doctors noticed that her symptoms were similar to those of the Swine Flu.

AAR Public Relations Officer Juliet Ratemo says they immediately alerted KEMRI officials who took over the case.

“We closed the AAR Health Centre and took all measures to ensure that our staff and other patients present did not come into further unprotected contact with the patient,” Ms Ratemo told Capital News.

News about the patient had spread across Nairobi via SMS overnight on Friday, spreading panic as people sought to know the authenticity of the text messages.

In mid this month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) raised the Pandemic alert status from phase 5 to phase 6, which meant that the disease had reached the emergency level.

“It’s not killing more people, it’s not more aggressive than before so don’t think because we have elevated the phase to 6 the disease has become more severe, no! It is about geographical spread. We have been expecting the worst, we are lucky it’s not that bad,” Dr David Okello, WHO Kenya Director had said.

After the alert was raised, Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said the government had stepped up surveillance of the influenza H1N1 and over 50,000 doses of the drug Tamiflu was in the stock pile for use in case of an outbreak in the country.

She had also said there was a ready isolation facility at the Kenyatta National Hospital in case of an outbreak.

The first case of influenza H1N1 virus was reported in late April in Mexico.

According to the WHO website, by Friday, there were 59,814 confirmed cases of the swine flu around the world. 263 people have died of the disease.

The H1N1 strain is a new type of virus that has not circulated previously in humans. The virus is contagious, spreading easily from one person to another and from one country to another.

Young people under the age of 25 years are the main casualties in all the countries.
A similar outbreak occurred in 1918 but was more severe than the current epidemic but the WHO warned that this may change hence the need for more vigilance.

Kenyans can get more information on the disease through the following contacts: 0722- 331 548,020-204 0542, 271 8292.


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