First case of swine flu [H1N1] confirmed in Kenya

Kenya’s minister for Public Health and Sanitation Mrs. Beth Mugo held a press conference this morning in Nairobi to confirm the case. The new case is different from a false suspect which had been reported last week in Nairobi.

The patient a British national jetted into the country from the UK over the weekend. He presented symptoms of the disease on Saturday night. Samples were taken on Sunday morning and by evening, they had been confirmed as positive.

The UK student is part of a group that is in Kisumu in Western Kenya for a medical camp. The student had travelled from Nairobi to the lakeside city in a bus with fellow students.

Confirmatory tests had been carried out at three different laboratories at the institution as per World Health Organisation guidelines.

The three labs include that operated by Kemri itself, a second one run by the US Centres for disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a third one operated by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research also of the US. All the three are hosted at the Kemri headquarters in Nairobi.

Dr Kioko, however, added that only mild strains of the virus had been found out.

“It is not a serious case and there is no cause for panic,” he said.

On Monday, the public health officials isolated the student in a hotel room as arrangements were made to transfer him to a hospital.

The symptoms of H1N1 in people are similar to the symptoms of common seasonal flu. The common symptoms of H1N1 Flu include:

• Fever – particularly a fever of over 100 degrees

• Sore throat

• Cough

• Chills and fatigue

• Body aches

• Headache

• Occasionally, vomiting and diarrhea

Persons who experience flu-like symptoms should immediately contact their physician, but, remember, Swine Flu is a highly contagious disease and people who believe they are infected with H1N1 should avoid going out in public unless absolutely necessary. So, call first.

Warning Signs

People at higher risk of serious complications from seasonal flu, including people over the age 65, and children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, people of any age with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people who are infected with HIV should be extra vigilant in looking for the symptoms of H1N1.

Because young children often cannot explain how they are feeling it especially important to keep an eye out for children who are having difficulty breathing.

If any person, but particularly small children and others in high risk groups, exhibit any of the following serious warning signs, seek immediate emergency medical care:

• Trouble breathing, including rapid breathing.

• Gray or bluish skin color

• Not drinking enough fluids

• Sleeping constantly and not interacting when awake

• Being especially irritable

• Not urinating or no tears when crying

• The symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Also please remember that causing unnecessary panic would likely only make the situation much more difficult to control. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

• Swine flu likely spreads by direct contact with respiratory secretions of someone that is sick with swine flu, like if they were coughing and sneezing close to you.

• People with swine flu are likely contagious for one day before and up to seven days after they began to get sick with swine flu symptoms.

• Droplets from a cough or sneeze can also contaminate surfaces, such as a doorknob, drinking glass, or kitchen counter, although these germs likely don’t survive for more than a few hours.

• Anti-flu medications, including Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), are available to prevent and treat swine flu even in Kenya.

• The latest swine flu news includes advice that students should stay home if they have swine flu symptoms, but schools do not need to close unless they have large clusters of cases that are affecting school functioning.

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