, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 21- The government on Sunday dismissed reports of a cholera outbreak in Nairobi.
Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo said officials from her ministry had ascertained that potential cases reported in Kibera were not a cause for concern, but appealed to Kenyans to be cautious about personal hygiene.
"We don’t have confirmed reports of cholera in Nairobi. All we have had are cases of people complaining of severe diarrhoea or vomiting" said the Public Health Minister.
"I inform Kenyans that not all diarrhoea is cholera. When we have isolated the culture we have found that the numbers that have been claiming to have cholera were experiencing plain diarrhoea and vomiting. "
She said ministry officials and health centre staff had enacted measures including testing the high density areas for cholera and treating those with similar symptoms to the epidemic.
Ten people have died since Wednesday from a cholera outbreak that rocked parts of Kenya’s Coast province.
The 10 deaths bring the number of cholera-related casualties across Kenya to 81. This latest upsurge in the spread of the disease has elicited sharp reactions from medical experts who have called on President Mwai Kibaki to declare it a national disaster.
Mrs Mugo added that due to poor drainage, clean water had been mixed with sewage, leading to consumption of contaminated water unknowingly.
She also attributed the spread of the disease to the constant water rationing that has hit many parts of the country. People have resorted to buying water from vendors whose source was questionable.
The Public Health Minister however said the government was on a high alert on possible outbreaks of the disease, despite containing its spread at the Coast, Suba, Garba Tula, Isiolo and Laisamis.
"The situation has been contained, there are no new infections; so the epidemic is not as bad as people are thinking," she said.
But she added: "However I would still like to put the country on a high alert of cholera. We need to be extra watchful about the water we drink; boil all water, wash vegetables and fruits and properly cook our meat."
She urged the public to desist from eating food sold in roadside kiosks.
Her ministry has asked officials to strictly inspect all eateries and ensure high standards of hygiene in response to the new upsurge in the outbreak.
"Public health officers are under strict instructions not to allow street vendors (to sell food) unless they see that the source of that food is really clean," the minister said.