, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – A 21-year-old Kenyan female who jetted into the country from India a week ago has tested negative for the H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as Swine Flu.
Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Chief Public Relations Officer Simon Ithai said on Thursday that the patient was suffering from seasonal flu, which was not severe or life threatening.
“She has now been advised to observe hygiene and social distance to avoid transmitting the disease to other people,” he said.
“What she needs to do is to ensure that when she is socialising, she is careful just like when you have a common flu where we ensure use of handkerchief when coughing.”
The patient had presented herself to the hospital on Tuesday fearing that she could be having the highly contagious H1N1 influenza virus and samples were tested at the National Influenza Centre.
Latest statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate 77,201 confirmed cases of the virus worldwide with 332 reported deaths.
However, despite these high figures, Mr Ithai assured that the hospital was well prepared to handle any case and called on the public not to panic.
“Majority of the public might be worried when they contract a flu; they may actually think that they have contracted the H1N1 flu but we encourage them not to panic and be assured that this disease is under control,” he said.
Kenya has reported one case involving a British national who was on a field trip to Kisumu together with 33 colleagues.
The 34 medical students were quarantined in an isolated wing of a hotel in Kisumu for observation.
Public Health Minister Beth Mugo who visited the students earlier on Wednesday said that they would leave for the United Kingdom on Saturday after six days of quarantine.
Test results of three of the students who had developed symptoms similar to those of the H1N1 influenza virus were expected to be released on Thursday.
The new strain of H1N1 Influenza virus is believed to be caused by a mutated H5N1 strain which also causes bird flu.
The new form contains DNA sequences from human and avian influenza viruses, as well as from other strains of swine influenza.
The new strain, which is transmitted from human to human, has not circulated previously in humans. The virus is contagious, spreading easily from one person to another and from one country to another.
In mid June, the WHO raised the Pandemic alert status from phase five to phase six, which meant that the disease had reached the emergency level.
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.