Government calls for increased vigilance following flu outbreak in Nakuru County


NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 12 – Care givers of children who present with a cough and fever have been urged to immediately visit the nearest health facility for investigations, following an influenza outbreak in Nakuru County that has claimed 39 lives.

Through a statement released on Tuesday evening, Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu revealed that 296 cases of the severe acute respiratory illness had been confirmed since March 24, this year.

The disease is reported to be mainly affecting children under five, who present with a cough that does not respond to medication followed by convulsions, coma and death.

“We wish to assure members of the public that the Ministry of Health will provide regular updates as the investigations and response to this outbreak progress,” said Dr. Mailu.

The Ministry of Health further reminded Kenyans to cover their mouths with some tissue or a cloth while coughing and sneezing to prevent further spread of the disease.

Dr. Mailu also asked Kenyans to ensure that they wash their hands with soap and water after coming into contact with respiratory secretions or contaminated objects, as the Ministry increased surveillance.

“Preliminary analysis of samples sent by the Ministry’s team to KEMRI/USAMRD-K laboratories identifies influenza virus types A and B as the cause of the illness,” observed Dr. Mailu.

The Ministry has so far sent a multidisciplinary team of experts to support the County’s response efforts and conduct a comprehensive investigation to establish the real magnitude of the outbreak.

The team will also determine the cause and possible risk factors.

“Blood samples and nasopharyngeal samples have been taken and sent to the CDC National Influenza Sentinel laboratory in Nairobi for further testing to determine the cause,” said the CS.

In addition, clinicians have been sensitized on case detection and management. A case definition has been disseminated to all County health care workers to enhance detection.