Kenya works to stem spread of Swine Flu

June 30, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 30 – The government is to review its surveillance strategy to come up with a more efficient way of preventing the swine flu virus from spreading in the country.

The Head of the Ministry of Health Department of Disease, Prevention and Control Willis Akhwale said on Tuesday that in addition to screening procedures at entry points, information brochures about the virus will be availed to all travellers.

He emphasised the government’s commitment to deal effectively with the virus.
“We are not going to subject every visitor coming to Kenya into having samples taken from them, but we will give them information so that they seek medical attention immediately they develop any symptom,” he stated.

“Ninety percent of the cases are mild while 10 percent are the only ones which are severe and therefore will require admission. The death rate as also observed is one in every hundred people,” he added.

The doctor assured Kenyans that the government was prepared to deal with the virus.

“Let me assure Kenyans that we are very well prepared. We are putting in place various measures, which include education of health care workers, so that they do not make any mistake in the clinics.”

“We are also scaling up on the information about this disease through our media channels.”

While acknowledging that it was difficult to take samples from every one, he outlined plans to decentralise testing centres to ensure the effective and expeditious observation of samples.

“One of the challenges is how the samples are brought in and we are trying to decentralise so that samples are taken to particular centres that can then reach Nairobi as soon as possible,” he explained, stressing the need for an effective way to distribute much needed drugs to the various centres.

“We want to have an efficient way where the medicine will reach areas where the diagnosis is made as soon as possible,” he said.

There is currently no vaccine available to protect against the H1N1 influenza virus, which was first reported in Mexico in March and spread fast to other parts of the world.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has previously said it was in the process of producing a vaccine but it would take about six months from the time the first case was reported.

Following Monday’s confirmation, the government has put in place a heightened alert for the flu.

The new strain is believed to be caused by a mutated H5N1 strain virus sub-type, 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 for Swine Flu from phase 5 to phase 6, which meant that the disease had reached the emergency level.

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

Young people under the age of 25 years are the main casualties in all the countries.


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