Baringo County has reported 50 cases of patients suffering from Kala Azar disease in the past six months, an epidemiologist, Dr. Robert Rono has said.
Dr. Rono who is working at the county referral hospital, Kabarnet, said majority of those affected by the parasitic disease spread by Sand Flies are teenagers who are always out in the field performing daily chores like herding livestock.
Speaking to KNA at his office while briefing on the status of the disease, the county epidemiologist singled out the most affected areas to include Akwichatis, Paka, Chesawach, Kapao, Kongor and Kapunyany in Tiaty constituency.
The Kala azar prevalent in Baringo and West Pokot counties, he noted is a parasitic infection caused by different species of Leishmania protozoa which is transmitted through the bite of infected female sand flies common in arid and semi-arid regions.
“The main symptoms of the disease which appear weeks or months after infection include fever, weight loss, darkening in complexion, enlarged liver, some register a drop in blood level, and skin lesions which are usually painless but can become painful if infected with bacteria,” Rono said.
He explained that the Sand Flies which cause the disease common in pastoralist inhabited regions are very tiny silent flies and do not hum, causing their bite to go unnoticed, the insects bite from dusk to dawn and are often found in stone and mud walls cracks in animal burrows and in the forests.
Dr. Rono said the Health Department has mounted series of sensitisation campaigns in the affected areas and trained community health volunteers (CHVs) on how to detect, treat the cases as well as educate the communities on signs and symptoms of the disease which can be fatal if not treated.
The Health Department to minimise distances travelled by patients, Dr. Rono stated, has established treatment zones at Chemolingot Sub County Hospital in Tiaty and Kimalel Health Institution in Baringo South adding that there are at an advanced stage to increase testing centres particularly in the disease prone areas of the county.
Dr. Elizabeth Chebet, a Medical Officer of health based at Kimalel Health Centre disclosed they have received 20 patients at the facility in the past two months who are receiving 17 days’ free treatment who at the moment were in stable condition.
Chebet reiterated that none of the already received patients succumb to the disease unless one tampers with the treatment regime or mixes up with natural herbs which she noted interferes with the injured liver.
Among the major prevention measures for neglected tropical disease, the medical officer said include minimising or avoiding outdoor activities from dusk to dawn and locals should also sleep under permethrin treated net and beds.
By Faith Lagat and Joshua Kibet