NAIROBI — An alert has been issued in Mombasa County, Kenya, in response to an outbreak of dengue fever, a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease.
More than 100 people have been infected in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa, according to government health officials in the county by the same name. In recent statements, authorities say dengue has spread to different parts of the county, with cases confirmed in major hospitals.
The county director of medical services, Dr. Khadija Shikely, says that according to past statistics, dengue has been more prevalent in Mombasa compared with the rest of Africa.
Shikely says that children who go to school and people attending college are most affected by dengue fever. Officials and institutions of learning are working together to clear the mosquitoes’ breeding sites. In addition, posters have been released and information has been disseminated via social media to inform people of various preventive measures.
According to the World Health Organization, dengue is transmitted by the female mosquito of Aedes aegypti, the same species that transmits yellow fever and the Zika infection.
The dengue infection causes a flu-like illness and occasionally develops into a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue, or dengue hemorrhagic fever.
The disease is more prevalent in areas that are crowded and unhygienic. Recent rains in the region are said to have created breeding grounds for the insects.
Health authorities say dengue was first reported in Mombasa in 2013, with 197 suspected cases. Thirty-eight cases were positive. They also say 589 dengue cases were reported last year.
Shikely outlined some efforts taken to control the spread of the disease.
She says that for the past two months, even before the start of the rainy season, prevention and control efforts have included chlorination and spraying, and those steps have been repeated because of rains. She says community health workers are also engaged in health promotions.
County health officials have also outlined other prevention efforts, such as encouraging people to use mosquito repellents and sleep under mosquito nets.
Mombasa is one of Kenya’s top tourist destinations. The thousands of tourists who visit each year contribute largely to the country’s economy. Tourism in Kenya is the second-largest source of foreign exchange revenue.