Two people have succumbed to cholera in Kipsongo slums of Kitale town, in Trans-Nzoia county.
Confirming the incident, Kitale Referral Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Emmanuel Wanjala said five of the other 21 patients admitted to the facility had also tested positive for cholera and were under medication.
However, 10 have already been discharged from the hospital after their conditions were stabilised.
Dr. Wanjala also confirmed that some of the patients were students from the Kitale National Polytechnic.
According to the medic, other areas affected by the disease included Lukhuna and Shanti estates in Kitale town.
“We have sent a team of public health officers in these areas to assess the situation,” he said.
Speaking to the press in Kitale town, the County Public Health Officer Norbert Musundi said they suspected that the outbreak might have been caused by contaminated water.
“Most of our sewer lines and water pipes were disrupted by contractors doing work in town and there is a possibility of pollution of water by faecal matter,” he said.
Musundi noted the sewerage treatment works in Kitale town have been defective for a long time with the treating filters failing causing blockage and bursting of those pipes, thus discharging sewage that leads to contamination.
He also said public health officers were following leads on hawking of food, especially in open air markets and packaging after the ban on plastic papers.
“With the ban of plastic bags, we don’t know what these people are wrapping their foods and fruits with which might cause disease outbreak,” he added.
The health officer said they were also tracing contacts of patients admitted to the hospital and those who have been discharged to unravel the cause of the outbreak.
“We are also collecting samples from water sources and discharge from water treatment works to check whether it might be a source of contamination to our water,” he added.
Health workers were also planning for a stakeholder engagement to ensure the situation does not spread to institutions which may be challenging to manage.
Musundi urged more stakeholders to come on board and work together with the department of health and sanitation to ensure they solve the problem early enough.
He also warned contractors against destroying sewerage pipes in town and asked them to repair the broken ones with immediate effect before action is taken against them.
Meanwhile, most of the affected persons complained of stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.
One of the patients, Mary Wangoi Wanjiru, 23, said that she developed the symptoms after consuming some water on Friday.
“We had no water for about a week but on Friday, we started receiving some drops but it was dark brown in colour. But since I was thirsty, I assumed and took a glass of it. Later I started vomiting and having diarrhoea before my cousin brought me to the hospital,” she narrated.
When the press visited Kipsongo estate, the residents blamed the disease outbreak on the piped water which they suspected might have been contaminated by the sewerage. They appealed to the County government to improve sanitary care in order to save lives.