Influenza outbreak suspected as Kenyans lament feeling down
It’s not just you, a lot of people in the country seem to be down with the flu, if the statuses on social media are anything to go by. Everyone is complaining of high fever, cough, sore throat, watery eyes, headaches and body aches.
According to a Twitter user called Vicky, all her family members are down with a bad case of the flu. The post, which attracted, nearly 300 comments, many said the same was true for their families.
“What is not happening is that for the last seven days all my three children and their father have had the flu. The worst of all is my seven-month-old daughter, she can't breathe,” she wrote.
“I went to work on Monday. At work, all my colleagues were sneezing and coughing. Nobody had a mask on. On Wednesday I became a victim. On Thursday it was my husband who fell ill. It went on to my second-born, then my first-born and the nanny.
Celestine wrote: “I took some medication last week and still my flu is killing me. My head is heavy and my body aches. I have never had a flu like this. Too strong.”
Dr Walter Otieno, a leading paediatrician in Western Kenya, noted that there has been an increase in the number of children presenting with flu and urged parents to be cautious, adding that he attends to almost eight children presenting with flu symptoms in a day.
“Many children are affected and before you give that child the antibiotics that you have at home, make sure that it is prescribed by a doctor for that particular time, and if it is not serious, avoid giving antibiotics,” Dr Otieno said.
He urged parents to ensure that children dress warmly during this rainy and cold season.
“It is raining and most of the time during such seasons, we usually have flu outbreaks,” he said.
Research shows that cold weather worsens upper respiratory tract infections in humans, so Kenyans should be prepared for high levels of flu this cold season.
Ms Susan Nyokabi, a health worker at a city hospital, told the Nation that she had seen a spike in the number of patients coming in with flu symptoms.
“I am not sure if we have an outbreak in the country, but this is a strong flu with strong symptoms that refuse to go away. It is unfortunate that people are only coming to the hospital when they are overwhelmed,” said Ms Nyokabi.
“Flu or no flu, people need to take precautions,” said Prof Shem Otoi, the Covid-19 Programme Coordinator for the Lake Region Economic Bloc. “It may be difficult to know the exact cause of the ongoing increase and since it is stronger and not going away, just make sure you follow the precautions. Always wear a mask.”
He also urged those already infected to seek medical attention.
“If you feel unwell, go to the hospital, most people wait until it’s too late and the situation is dire, then they rush to the hospital. Make it a habit to seek help as early as possible,” said Prof Otoi.
The flu (influenza in full) is different from a cold and can cause mild to severe illness and death. It. It usually comes on suddenly. Most people who get the flu recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people develop complications (such as pneumonia), some of which can be life-threatening.
The disease is more common during the cold season, although viruses circulate all year round, especially in tropical areas.
Prof Matilu Mwau, an infectious disease researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, said the situation is likely to worsen with the opening of schools as children will spend more time in classrooms because of the colder weather, hence infecting each other.
“On average, there are about 2,500 deaths from influenza each year, the vast majority of them being the elderly,” he said.
Preventing illness is always more effective than treating it. Apart from staying home if you’re feeling unwell, coughing into your sleeve (or a tissue) and washing your hands frequently are simple but important steps everyone can take to protect themselves from flu,” said Prof Mwau.