Nakuru County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo has issued stringent measures to be observed following reported cases of outbreak of cholera in several parts of the country.
Consequently, Kitiyo has announced immediate ban on hawking of food outside designated areas and urged residents to report any suspected case of the disease to health authorities or the nearest government office for management.
Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Health issued a cholera alert following confirmation of 61 cases across counties.
The outbreak which originated from Kiambu has since spread to Nairobi, Murang’a, Kajiado, Uasin Gishu and Meru counties.
Kitiyo warned that he may suspend food hawking, public feasting and open-air food kiosks if the situation deteriorates.
To avoid a ban, all players were warned to observe high levels of hygiene, especially frequent hand washing using soap and running water and using clean water to cook and wash dishes.
In a Public Statutory Notice issued Wednesday, the County Commissioner advised the general public to take prevention and control measures including proper use of clean toilets, hand washing, proper cooking of foods, thorough cleaning of fruits and vegetables as well as consumption of safe either boiled or chlorinated water.
“All food premises must comply with all the stipulated health regulations. Anyone experiencing sudden onset of diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration should visit the nearest health facility immediately,” he added.
Kitiyo directed all food establishments to ensure that all their workers are medically examined and issued with certificates and that all food handlers observe high standards on hygiene.
He also said that no vehicle will be allowed to stop along roads and highways within the County for its occupants to answer calls of nature in public places.
Kitiyo ordered that any vehicle that may be carrying a person suspected of being infected with cholera to report to the nearest health facility for necessary action.
The county commissioner further said enormous work was being done to keep the county alert including field investigations, enhanced surveillance, contact tracing, laboratory testing, case management, risk communication, community engagement and environmental sanitation to prevent further spread of the disease.
He stated that the County Government should ensure that its water and sewage companies address blockage of sewage within shortage time possible and disinfect affected areas, while waring that operators of unlicensed water bowsers will be arrested and prosecuted.
At the same time, he advised health management teams in the county to enhance awareness creation, preparedness, disease surveillance and case management.
All health facilities, he added, have been directed to take special notice of patients exhibiting watery diarrhoea of acute onset and thoroughly monitor such cases in communities.
Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae found in contaminated water or food and is primarily linked to insufficient access to safe water and adequate sanitation.
It is considered a potentially serious infectious disease and can cause high morbidity and mortality. It can also spread rapidly, depending on the exposure frequency and population exposed.
Cholera outbreaks have been reported every year, with large cyclical epidemics witnessed every other five to seven years.
A major challenge in dealing with cholera outbreaks is primarily limited capacity for response and low access to safe water. The Public Health department has been accused of lax enforcement of food safety bylaws, especially those items that are hawked and in eateries.
By Jane Ngugi