Spread of Zoonotic Diseases During Floods in Kenya


“There is a stock of approximately two million doses of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) vaccines at the Strategic Reserve”

Floods claim lives and displace thousands in Kenya/Capital News

Heavy rains and floods in Kenya have recently claimed several lives and displaced thousands of individuals, with a majority facing the risks of electrocution and diseases such as zoonotic infections.

The extensive rainfall has wreaked havoc in over 35 counties, with the most affected regions identified as Turkana, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, Kisumu, Taita, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, West Pokot, Samburu, and Narok.

These counties have been identified as at risk for zoonotic diseases, as warned by veterinary experts. The substantial rainfall witnessed in the country can lead to zoonotic diseases, which are infectious diseases transmitted from non-human animals to humans.

Understanding Zoonotic Diseases:

Zoonotic diseases are infectious illnesses that have jumped from non-human animals to humans. These pathogens may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, and transmission can occur through direct contact or via food, water, or the environment. Areas with high antibiotic use in farming may increase the risk of antimicrobial drug-resistant pathogens. Additionally, individuals living near wilderness areas or in semi-urban regions with abundant wildlife face a heightened risk of diseases transmitted by animals like rats, foxes, or raccoons. Urbanization and habitat destruction further amplify the risk of zoonotic diseases by intensifying contact between humans and affected animals.

Jane Njuguna, the Veterinary Service deputy director, reassured the public that the government is well-prepared for any eventualities associated with the El Niño rains. She stated, “There is a stock of approximately two million doses of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) vaccines at the Strategic Reserve, housed at the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute.” Njuguna made this statement during a media training session on reporting Rift Valley Fever organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Naivasha.

“We are actively raising public awareness and conducting disease surveillance in high-risk counties; the government is prepared for any crisis,” added Njuguna.

Preventive Measures:

Dr. Matthew Muturi, an epidemiologist at the Zoonotic Disease Unit, emphasized the importance of avoiding uninspected meat or meat not sourced from a slaughterhouse to prevent contracting zoonotic diseases. He also cautioned against waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, as well as vector-borne diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.

“The public should be aware of mosquito population control measures, especially for those residing in flood-prone areas. Avoiding contact with sick animals and refraining from consuming uninspected meat products is crucial. If involved in assisting animals during birth, strict hygiene practices must be observed,” advised Dr. Muturi.

He further highlighted the necessity for farmers to ensure their animals are vaccinated against RVF. Although the highest-risk areas for RVF are in Northeastern and upper Eastern regions, all areas experiencing excessive flooding and supporting high mosquito populations are susceptible to RVF and zoonotic outbreaks. Prone counties include Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Marsabit, Isiolo, Baringo, Murang’a, Kilifi, Nyandarua, and Samburu.

The Kenya Meteorological Department had previously issued warnings of El Niño during the October-November-December short rains. Diseases spread more rapidly during flood periods, prompting Kenyans to avoid contact with affected animals. Two potential outbreaks during El Niño are waterborne and vector-borne diseases.


Author: Jesse Abisheck

Contact: abijessyshi@gmail.com

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