Six people have died and at least 80 others are in critical condition after an outbreak of cholera in Migori County.
County Department of Health chief officer Donald Jaleny said three victims died at Rongo Sub-District Hospital while three others died at home while waiting to be taken to hospital.
The 80 have been admitted to various health facilities in Rongo and Awendo sub-counties.
“The six died within the last 24 hours. We have also received some cases from Nyatike constituency. We have mobilized our public health staff and enough drugs to contain the situation,” the official told the media in Migori Town.
He said the worst-affected areas are Lwala and North Kamagambo in Rongo.
“We are working together with the national government to address this situation. We are also engaging the Homa Bay county government to be on high alert because some deaths occurred along the border.
“The situation is serious and we want support from all stakeholders,” Mr Jaleny said.
The health official told principals of primary and secondary schools as well as colleges in the county to be on high alert to avert possible cholera-related disasters.
Migori Governor Okoth Obado asked the residents to maintain high standards of hygiene and to drink only treated water.
“Cholera is a waterborne disease that can wipe out a population within days and this is why we are not taking chances,” said Mr Obado.
The governor said the newly purchased ambulances were on standby to respond to cases in the villages and asked members of the public to immediately alert health officials whenever they spotted patients with cholera-related symptoms.
SHORT INCUBATION PERIOD
According to the World Health Organization, cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given.
Vomiting also occurs in most patients.
Most people infected with V. cholerae do not become ill, although the bacterium is present in their faeces for 7-14 days.
When illness does occur, about 80 to 90 per cent of episodes are of mild or moderate severity and are difficult to distinguish clinically from other types of acute diarrhoea.
Less than 20 percent of ill persons develop typical cholera with signs of moderate or severe dehydration.
Cholera remains a global threat and is one of the key indicators of social development.
While the disease no longer poses a threat to countries with minimum standards of hygiene, it remains a challenge to countries where access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation cannot be guaranteed.