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Fourth Kenya school hit by Swine Flu

NAKURU, Kenya, Sept 19 – Another school in Nakuru has been quarantined over fears of a suspected swine flu outbreak.

Eleven students at Kirobon Secondary School were taken ill on Friday evening with symptoms similar to those shown by patients infected by the H1N1 virus.
This prompted the District Public Health and Sanitation Services Officer Dr Kariuki Gichuhi to quarantine the students.
“The students were coughing, sneezing, had high fever, headache and suffered from general body weakness,” said Dr Gichuhi.

Kirobon School case brings the number of learning institutions that have been hit by a suspected swine flu outbreak to four. Other schools affected are the Kenya High School, St Joseph’s Seminary and Sacred Hearts Boys Secondary School in Rongai.

“Among the eleven seven were boys and four girls,” said Dr Kariuki.

He said a team from his office and that of the Medical Services had been sent to the school to monitor the situation.

Dr Gichuhi said samples from the sick students had been taken to the Kenya Medical Research Institute, KEMRI, for analysis.

On Friday, the Medical Superintendent in charge of Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, Dr George Mugenya had quarantined Sacred Hearts Boys after 11 students were taken ill.

Dr Gichuhi however said the eleven students at Sacred Hearts were still in seclusion but in stable condition. At St Joseph, another 46 students had been taken to Molo District Hospital with the same symptoms.

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However, 20 of the students were sent home by the school management even before the laboratory results were released. Their blood samples were taken at the district hospital and taken to KEMRI for analysis.

Molo District Public Health Officer, Dr Magdalene Ithumbi yesterday said that she was going to the school to find out why the sick students were sent home.

The government on Saturday urged boarding schools to be extra careful and maintain the highest hygienic standards possible as the cases continue to rise. The Director of Public Health Dr Shahnaaz Shariff said schools administrators should work to arrest the spread of the disease.

“One of them is total distancing while those using tissue should dispose it off. People should also wash hands and cover their mouths while coughing,” he said.

Over 170 students have been confirmed to be having the HINI disease and are currently quarantined. Dr Shariff however said there is no cause for alarm as the government was putting measures to address the situation.

“They are relatively mild illness and some of them are influenza,” he stated.

While the events of the infections unfolded, concerned parents and guardians kept streaming in and out of Kenya High with the hope of getting information about their loved ones.

Mrs Monicah Onyango was one such parent, with a daughter in form four at the institution. She said that when she heard that 11 other swine flu cases were suspected at the institution, she became worried.

“I had to come and check on my daughter and luckily she was not among those infected. The school management has assured me that it will inform me in case she falls sick. I have also been told that the 11 suspected cases have also been put on medication as a precautionary measure,” she said.

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“But I am still worried; I couldn’t see my daughter. There is nothing much I can do except to have faith and pray for the best.”

She also praised the government and the school management for a commendable job of maintaining and handling the situation.


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