June 17, 2024


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EAC cautions Partner States after vector-borne disease kills people in Kenya

By Justin Kayiranga

The East African Community Secretariat urges EAC Partner States to step up measures to prevent and respond to the outbreaks of the infectious diseases following heavy rains in different parts of the EAC region.

The recommendation follows reports of an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Kenya that has caused the death of at least three people and information on outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) among livestock in EAC Partner States received by the EAC Secretariat.

Kenya’s Ministry of Health reported on 5th March 2022 that the government has activated its health emergency response mechanisms following the death of three persons attributed to an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Isiolo County, Eastern Kenya.

According to the report, the first case was detected on January 12th this year.

Subsequently, 15 patients presented with yellow fever symptoms that include headache, fever, jaundice, muscle and joint pains.

“The heavy rainfalls and high temperatures have resulted in high numbers of mosquitos which transmit vector-borne diseases,” says EAC Deputy Secretary General Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo.

He also urged EAC Partner States to report such outbreaks to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as required and cautioned that the outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever might be followed by human cases if adequate measures are not taken in time.

He called for EAC Partner States to step up disease surveillance, control, and vaccination against Yellow Fever among their citizens.

The EAC Secretariat recommends that people protect themselves and especially children against mosquito bites by using mosquito nets, applying insect repellents and avoiding outdoor activities at peak biting times of mosquitos and by eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites.

Yellow Fever epidemics can occur when infected people introduce the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density and where most people have little or no immunity, due to a lack of vaccination.

 Mosquitoes can then transmit the virus from person to person. Patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms and about 20% of those die within 7 to 10 days (although there are wide variations among countries).

Yellow fever is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable. Although there is no cure for Yellow Fever, a single dose of vaccine is sufficient to grant sustained immunity and life-long protection against the disease.

The EAC Secretariat further recommends that Partner States intensify risk communication activities with preventive messages that enable the public to manage the risks at hand.

 In addition, meteorology departments should continue to monitor and analyse the weather patterns and share information with other departments to plan and prepare for outbreaks of infectious diseases of public health concern.

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