Now 3 Kenyans get swine flu

July 6, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 6 – Three Kenyans have now contracted the H1N1 influenza virus, the Ministry of Public Health announced on Monday.

Minister Beth Mugo said the three are among six patients undergoing treatment in the country. The other three involved United Kingdom nationals.

Two of the patients are in Nairobi, two in Kisumu, one in Garissa, and one in Kisii, she said.

“In the Garissa case a total of 30 people, mainly relatives of the patient, are quarantined awaiting results of their tests for the flu which are expected today (Monday),” she said.

“The three Kenyans contracted the disease from UK citizens, so the disease has been imported,” she said.

Cumulatively, the number of reported cases is 16 from when the first case was reported on a British student, who was among 33 others on a field trip to Kisumu a week ago.

However the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports 15 cases in Kenya and 94,512 globally with 429 deaths.

Asked whether the Ministry had stepped up surveillance for passengers travelling from the UK she said: “We don’t want to be seen like we are discriminating so we have stepped up surveillance from all the countries that have reported cases.”

She added: “We look at the airline, where it is coming from and where the flight originates and then we put more emphasis on that flight.”

She appealed to health workers to ensure that once a person is suspected of having the flu, they were immediately quarantined until their results were known.

The 33 British students and their team leader who were quarantined for six days in a Kisumu hotel left the country over the weekend.  

The first group of six, all female, left the country on Sunday noon. The Minister confirmed that the rest travelled back to the UK aboard an 11a.m flight on Monday.

The students were ferried to Nairobi from Kisumu on Saturday night amidst tight security.

The new strain of H1N1 Influenza virus is believed to be caused by a mutated H5N1 strain virus subtype, 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 5 to phase 6, 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.


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