About 75 People Die of Fever in Kenya - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/08/07 - Garissa, Kenya

About 75 People Die of Fever in Kenya

About 75 people have died in Kenya of Rift Valley fever during the past three weeks and another 183 are infected with it, according to a senior health official.

The death toll from the hemorrhagic fever -- a virus which spreads from animals to humans by mosquitoes and through contact with raw blood, milk and other bodily fluids -- could be higher because the figures are only of adult victims.

The affected people in the Northeastern Province rarely record the deaths of their children, Dr. Ahmed Omar Ahmed, the province's chief medical officer, said Sunday.

The disease mainly affects animals, only occasionally jumping over to infect humans. People who get the virus show symptoms such as headaches, fever, stiff necks, vomiting, and a discomfort when exposed to light. The symptoms last for up to four days by which time the body clears them out and patients usually improve, according to the World Health Organization.

Only about 1 or 2 percent of those infected with the fever reach the hemorrhagic stage, where they get jaundice, vomit and pass blood. Up to 50 percent of patients at this stage may die, the WHO said.

While there is a vaccine against the fever for animals, there is not one for humans.

The last outbreak of the disease in East Africa was between 1997-1998, when 478 people died in Somalia and Kenya.

Heavy December rains in the country's Northeastern and Coast provinces created a large breading ground for mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes may also lay eggs, which can survive for up to several years in dry conditions until it rains and they hatch to produce other infected mosquitoes and spread the disease years later, according to the WHO.

Joseph Musaa, Kenya's director of veterinary services, arrived in Garissa on Sunday with 400,000 vials of animal vaccines to be administered in the province.

He said that the vaccines, which the U.S. donated, are only a quarter of what is needed to inoculate all animals in the region.


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