Fighting chikungunya disease in northeastern Kenya

تم النشر: 8 أغسطس 2016 10:30 CET

By Ogola Florence, Kenya Red Cross Society

“I got chikungunya and didn’t know what to do, neither did my family, but now I know what to do, thanks to the Kenya Red Cross Society,” said Karima Billow, a student at Khadija Girls Secondary School. Karima was among the students recently sensitized on the chikungunya disease by a team from the Kenya Red Cross Society.

As part of the Red Cross interventions in response to the chikungunya outbreak in Mandera County, community members are educated on preventive measures they can take to avoid being infected, and the steps to take should they become infected.

“When I contracted chikungunya, my family took me to three different clinics where I was diagnosed and treated for malaria, but I was still sick,” said Karima. “My family decided to bring me back home because no one understood why I was not getting better.”

Chikungunya was declared an epidemic in Mandera County in May. Since its detection, the disease has affected over 1,700 people.

When a person is infected, the disease can display the following symptoms: headache, extreme fatigue, high fever, severe joint or muscle pains, nausea, and body rash. People at risk of severe symptoms include the new born, the elderly, women late in their pregnancy, and people with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease.

“The Kenya Red Cross is handling the prevention aspect by educating and creating awareness about the disease and how to manage it if affected,” said Hassan Ronnow, head of the cholera and chikungunya response in Mandera for the Kenya Red Cross Society.

“We are also working closely with the county government and have spearheaded one successful clean-up campaign in Mandera town,” said Hassan, noting that a lot still needs to be done in the area of waste management.”

Hassan was quick to point out that the disease is generally self-limiting, and affected people need supportive treatment, primarily in regards to the symptoms. This includes the use of pain relievers and the consumption of plenty of fluids.

The chikungunya virus is transmitted to people through the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are the same mosquitoes that transmit the dengue virus. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus.

In June, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies released 276,165 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the Kenya Red Cross Society in responding to the cholera and chikungunya outbreaks. Activities aimed at reaching 200,000 people focused on social mobilization, case management, and surveillance.