The ministry of health has raised alarm over a worrying spread of cholera in the Northern counties of Kenya, which has so far killed 13 people, the majority of who are children.
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe said on Thursday that the number of infected people had hit 550, with 268 in Marsabit, 222 in Turkana, and 48 in Garissa counties.
Wajir and Murang’ counties recorded four and eight cases respectively, the minister, said.
Out of the 13 reported deaths, Kagwe said 12 were from Marsabit while one was reported in Turkana.
“70 percent of the deaths are in children aged 10 years and below,” said Kagwe.
He said the ministry had stepped up intervention measures against the disease, and seen testing capacity increased by 40 percent over the past two weeks.
Images published in local media in the past days have depicted weak and emaciated cholera patients lying helplessly in homes and along hospital corridors.
Cholera, which is spread mainly by ingesting fecal matter, causes acute watery diarrhea and can kill within hours if not treated.
In Kenya, the spread has been associated with lack of, or poor sanitation facilities and inaccessibility to clean water, and has been linked to low social-economic status.
The cholera outbreak comes as all government effort is being directed towards the fight against the deadly Coronavirus that has so far killed 50 people, and whose infection rate currently stands at 1,109 countrywide.