Wednesday, July 19, 2006

10 children hospitalised as kalazar breaks out in Isiolo
By Boniface Ongeri

Ten children were yesterday admitted to Wajir District Hospital in critical condition, suffering from kalazar.

The disease broke out in a division in Isiolo District. Wajir Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ahmeddin Omar, said they were expecting more children from Malkagalla location in Merti Division on the Wajir –Isiolo districts border.

Ahmeddin said three children were admitted on Friday and the rest on Tuesday. Parents accompanying the children reported that 10 children who were reported to have died from malaria over the last week could have succumbed to kalaazar.

The death reports could not, however, be independently confirmed because the Isiolo MOH could not be reached for comment. By the time of this report more children were trooping to the Wajir facility and scores queued at the reception waiting for admission.

Ahmeddin, however, said the children aged between two and five had swollen abdomens and high fever. He expressed fears that the hospital may not handle the emergency as it was running out of medicine to treat the disease.

"The drugs could only cater for four patients and the swelling number of patients has overstretched the drugs. We have appealed for more drugs from Nairobi," he said.
Ahmeddin said the disease spread by sun flies was expensive to treat. "The disease is fatal if not detected early and treated. In most cases sufferers develop anaemia," he said.

Asked why they did not seek medical attention in Isiolo, Karo Bakasa who had brought his three-year-old grandson said the district hospital lacked medicine to treat the disease.
"Four children who were taken to Isiolo died during a similar outbreak in 2003 but those who came to Wajir survived," Bakasa told doctors at the facility. He said four other children died recently, forcing them to move to Wajir.

He said they thought the outbreak was malaria until doctors at Wajir confirmed it was the killer kalazar. Sunflies, which inject the parasite into the blood are found in ant hills, a common feature in the region.