By Mary Hearty
Since Yellow Fever is a viral hemorrhagic disease which still has no specific anti-viral drug that can effectively treat it, the Kenyan Ministry of Health plans to roll out vaccines in the high risk counties.
This includes Isiolo County and the neighboring counties of Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Meru, Samburu, Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, West-Pokot, Turkana, some parts of Tana River and Mandera.
This comes days later after the disease was reported in Merti and Gabartulla sub Counties of Isiolo County.
Vaccination is considered the most important means of preventing yellow fever as it is safe, affordable and a single dose provides life-long protection against the disease.
The vaccine provides effective immunity within 10 days for 80-100% of people vaccinated, and within 30 days for more than 99% of people vaccinated.
Other control measures are vector surveillance, control and protection against mosquito bites as Yellow Fever is transmitted by infected mosquitoes of the Aedes species.
These counties have also been advised to mobilize resources to support response and prevention interventions.
Moreover, since the outbreak is in a sparsely populated area, controlling it is likely to be easier. The government still urges vigilance in other regions despite the risk of further spread being low.
At the moment, six people have been reported dead, as 15 patients presenting with yellow fever symptoms- fever, jaundice, muscle pain and joint pain have been line-listed.
Majority of the patients are young adults, with males mostly affected. The youngest being 11 years and the oldest is 65 years, Dr Patrick Amoth, Acting Director General for Health noted in a press statement.
“Out of the 6 samples tested at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), 3 turned positive through serology and PCR,” the statement reads.
The Ministry of Health has already put in place a national incident management structure to help manage the outbreak.
Other interventions include developing a response plan to deploy rapid response team to Isiolo and the neighboring counties to establish the magnitude and extent of the outbreak, determine at-risk population, conduct a risk assessment, initiate risk communication and community engagement activities, and implement vector control measures.