Alarm as more children fall sick in Kisumu

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH). The facility is among those that have handled many cases of Scabies in Kisumu.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group.

Health officials in Kisumu have warned of an outbreak of scabies, a skin disease, among school children.

Kisumu Police Line Dispensary health officer Caroline Kituke said the past week alone she has attended to 12 learners suffering from scabies with more reporting with related symptoms.

"Most of the children I have treated are learners from Nyalenda, Nyamasaria and Buoye. The skin disease could be spreading fast in schools," said Ms Kituke.

Scabies is a parasitic infestation caused by mites known as Sarcoptes scabiei var hominis. The microscopic mites burrow into the skin and lay eggs, triggering an intense itch and rash. The wounds cause discomfort among the children.

Small children may have a more widespread rash on the palms, soles of the feet, ankles and sometimes the scalp.

Aga Khan Hospital dermatologist Khadija Hassan told the Nation the scabies outbreak is common among learners in boarding schools.

"Recently I have come across many cases of learners suffering from scabies, especially those coming from school," said Dr Hassan. 

How it spreads

She said the disease spreads through contact with infected personal items such as clothes and bed linen.

"It is tricky to prevent the spreading of the skin disease among children in the family context, because it is difficult to seclude them," said Dr Khadija.

Ms Dorine Otieno, a mother of four, said she noticed her children had rashes on their hands during the half term break.

"I noticed at night one child would scratch the hands to the point it would bleed. Soon the other children started having the symptoms," said Mrs Otieno.

She added: "When I called the school officials, I discovered that skin disease has affected most of the learners in that school." 

Dr Hassan has asked the parents to boost hygiene standards to deal with the disease.

"One way of improving hygiene is by boiling the clothes or bed linen. Another way is suffocating the clothes for 72 hours in a polythene bag and then finally washing them normally," she said.

According to WHO, if the skin disease is not treated in good time, it may lead to septicaemia, heart and chronic kidney diseases.

Now parents have asked the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with their Health counterparts to intervene and contain the spread of the skin disease that has afflicted hundreds of learners in schools.