Did Tharaka man die from reaction to deworming drugs?

Marimanti Hospital

Marimanti Level Four Hospital in Tharaka Nithi County where a man reportedly died after taking bilharzia drugs administered in a mass deworming campaign. 

Photo credit: Alex Njeru I Nation Media Group

A man from Matakiri in Tharaka Constituency has died after allegedly taking deworming tablets for intestinal worms and bilharzia administered by health workers from Tharaka Nithi County Government.

Mutuura Kanugu was reportedly given five tablets for bilharzia and one for intestinal worms on Monday last week and told to swallow them once.

Kanugu reportedly developed severe a headache and fever within minutes of taking the drugs and the situation worsened, forcing him to seek medical attention at Marimanti Level Four Hospital on Thursday, when he was admitted.

His wife, Mary Kagendo, told the media that the situation worsened on Friday and he died around 4pm on Saturday while receiving treatment at the ward.

"My husband had no health problems but he started complaining of severe headache and fever after taking the drugs that were given to everyone in the villages," said Ms Kagendo.

In Njukini area in the same constituency, a Grade Six girl also developed diarrhoea and vomiting after taking the drugs and was rushed to Gatue Health Centre where she was treated and discharged on Tuesday after improving.

In Gachugini village, a woman also developed severe diarrhoea and was rushed to hospital where she was treated and discharged after improving.

Tharaka South Sub County Public Health Officer Zabelio Njagi confirmed that several people had reported developing various complications including diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, headache and body weakness among others, but most of them were mild.

"Even before we administered the drugs to the people of the district, we knew very well that they would have some side effects but not serious ones," said Mr Njagi.

Side effects

He claimed that those who developed some serious side effects were those who were infected with schistosomiasis and intestinal worms.

He, however, said a post-mortem would be conducted to confirm whether the deceased died from the effects of the drugs.

Mr Njagi also urged residents who may still be experiencing complications from the drugs to seek medical attention at the nearest health facility.

The distribution of the drugs across the county started on June 8 and lasted four days. The drugs were distributed by community health volunteers under the supervision of county health officers.

To determine the number of tablets to be given, the health officers used a tape measure to check the height of the individual, with most people receiving between four and five tablets.

Nation.Africa can also confirm that several people from the two wards where residents were given the drugs complained of side effects.

The distribution was also supported by the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health, Helen Keller International, Village Hopecore International and Spark.