Health Ministry confirms there is chickenpox outbreak in Mombasa and Nairobi

Although the ministry says the outbreak is not a cause for alarm, the Director of Medical Services advised the public to limit contact with those infected so as to avoid its spread.

Speaking to Nation on phone, Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said chickenpox is a self-limiting disease in which a patient can recover without getting health care.

The Health ministry has confirmed an ongoing outbreak of chickenpox in Mombasa and Nairobi.

“It happens a lot during holidays and we always pick up the cases through enhanced awareness among the public,” said Dr Kioko.

Last week, the ministry began investigating suspected cases of an outbreak after patients reported an upsurge of the disease.

According to the ministry’s department of disease surveillance, Mombasa County has had the disease since January, with about 500 cases being reported.

In September, the cases increased to about 1,200, with majority of the patients being young children.

“The disease is more prevalent in dry and overcrowded places and, therefore, we are advising people to improve their hygiene level and limit contact with those who are infected,” said a source from the ministry’s Department of Disease Surveillance.

HAD INCREASED

At first, the ministry had said cases of patients presenting with big painful rashes in county hospitals had increased in Mombasa. But, confirmation of the cases was poor because the counties were reluctant to report them.

“We are still waiting for information from Nairobi County. They have just been promising but are yet to deliver,” added the source who spoke in anonymity as they are not allowed to speak to the Press. Dr Kioko said so far, only two counties, Mombasa and Nairobi, had reported the cases.

“The burden of the disease is usually very low and so is the mortality, that is why we have not had cases of people dying,” he said, adding that there was nothing to worry about.

Chickenpox is a common airborne illness that mainly affects children and causes small, itchy blisters which first appear on the chest, back and face before spreading to the rest of the body. It is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus, which spreads easily to people who have not had it before.

Chickenpox spreads through droplets in the coughs and sneezes of an infected person and results in a characteristic skin rash, which eventually scabs over.

Whereas the infection is usually mild and clears up in a week or so, it can be dangerous for some people, such as pregnant women, newborns and people with a weakened immune system.

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