Official dismisses reports of Ebola
outbreak in western KenyaEbola fever broke out in the western Uganda region
of Kibaale and has so far seen a total of 33 cases
diagnosed with the fever and 14 deathsSPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENTSFabian Mangera and Stephen Ingati .
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s top health official on Wednesday dismissed reports of an Ebola outbreak in western part of the east African nation which killed more than 10 people in neighboring Uganda last week.
Fears of an Ebola outbreak gripped the residents of Siaya County in western Kenya after as a 27-year-old patient was admitted to Siaya District Hospital with symptoms of the deadly infectious disease.The patient was admitted early on Wednesday and placed on a solitary ward in the hospital after doctors found him with excessive blood oozing from his gums and passing blood urine.However, Public Health Director in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation Dr. Shanhaz Sharrif dismissed such reports and assured Kenyans that all systems have been put in place to avert any outbreak of the deadly disease in Kenya.Sharrif said the patient who was admitted at the hospital has been discharged.
He called for calm as blood samples which were taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute in Siaya for testing are being examined.
"There is no Ebola in the country."Kenyans should remain calm as we await the results of the tests."Don’t panic and I will let you know when we have a case."The patient who was admitted this morning in Siaya has been discharged," Sharrif told Xinhua by telephone on Wednesday.
Sharrif said surveillance at the ports of entry has been strengthened and that any suspected cases are being handled accordingly.
"The government is conducting sensitization trainings of the health workers in high-risk facilities."The trainings involve surveillance, case investigations, management and infection prevention and control," Sharrif said.
Experts said there is an urgent need to increase public awareness on this deadly disease as well as to put in place as strong surveillance mechanism to allow for proper follow-up of all the cases.
Kenya has been fully alert following the outbreak of the deadly disease in Uganda last week.
The Ebola fever broke out in the western Uganda region of Kibaale and has so far seen a total of 33 cases diagnosed with the fever and 14 deaths including a clinical officer who attended to a patient, and her four-month-old child.Ministry of Public health Head of Disease Prevention Dr. Willis Akhwale said in Nairobi that the government has established a taskforce to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
Akhwale said the taskforce comprising of the ministry of health, U.S.-based Center for Disease Control, Kenya Medical Research Institute and the World Health Organization will chart a way forward for Kenya following the outbreak of Ebola in Uganda.
"We will not shut down the common border with Uganda but we are jointly with our neighbor to trace all those who have had contact with Ebola victims in order to avoid transmission into Kenya," Akhwale told Xinhua by telephone on Wednesday.
He noted Ebola is a highly infectious disease but is preventable.
"There is no cause for alarm as there is no suspected case inside Kenya," Akhwale said, adding health officials were briefing the government on measures taken to deal with any eventuality following the outbreak of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever in Uganda’s Kibaale region.
"We have put all health workers in the country on high alert," Sharrif said, adding the taskforce will monitor the situation and advise the government on Ebola.Sharrif said relevant labs at the KEMRI have been made ready for rapid Ebola tests. "All facilities have been provided with contingency drugs and isolation facilities have been set up in high risk facilities," he said.
People crossing the border to Kenya from Uganda have been required to go for thorough screening to curb a spread of the deadly disease.
The Uganda Red Cross is part of the National Emergency Taskforce that has been set up by the Ministry of Health to stop the disease from spreading more widely.
The Red Cross has mobilized volunteers and staff who are ready to support with case tracking and community awareness.
There is no treatment or vaccine against Ebola, one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind. It is transmitted by close personal contact and, depending on the strain.It kills up to 90 per cent of those who contract the virus.
Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
There have been several Ebola outbreaks recorded in the east African nation since the first one in 2000, leaving many people killed and much more traumatized. Kampala is coordinating needs assessments and response efforts aimed at containing the outbreak.