In Marsabit County’s Kargi Location, an unidentified disease has resulted in at least nine fatalities, with over 80 residents suffering severe symptoms. The unsettling increase in the mysterious ailment has sent shockwaves through the community, raising alarms for urgent intervention.
Local senior chief Moses Galoro confirmed the fatalities, suggesting that the initial reports pointed towards a potent strain of malaria. “Our village is in dire straits, with the escalating number of afflicted residents, and the mounting death toll requiring immediate attention,” urged Galoro.
Just recently, a 23-year-old man succumbed to the enigmatic illness at Kargi Health Centre. Among the deceased, six adults and three children aged one to three years old were reported. The majority of adults were male herders, except for a woman around 60 years old.
Galoro made a desperate plea to the county and national government for swift action to control the increasing outbreak. He also stressed the need for comprehensive virology tests and mass screening to ascertain the exact cause and prevent further fatalities.
Healthcare professionals, choosing to remain anonymous, described symptoms akin to flu, yellow eyes, and severe headaches in many of the affected. The latest fatality, a young man, displayed symptoms similar to Kalazar, a parasitic disease.
This alarming outbreak occurs in the context of ongoing research by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), the Ministry of Health, and the Division for National Malaria Programme (DNMP), focusing on new mosquito vectors’ adaptation to insecticide control.
An internal memo from Kemri revealed a newly detected mosquito vector, Anopheles stephensi, once limited to South-East Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula, had been identified in Kenya on December 22, 2022.
This ongoing crisis is compounded by infrastructure challenges, specifically the deteriorated condition of the Kargi-Marsabit feeder road, which has worsened due to heavy rains. The journey, which previously took only an hour and a half, now lasts up to five hours, obstructing crucial medical access.
The impassable road has led to tragic consequences, as described by Marawato Mifo, a mother of four. A three-year-old child died from the suspected outbreak after an ambulance called from Marsabit town was unable to reach the child in time.
Local authorities, residents, and humanitarian agencies are appealing for swift action to contain the mystery illness. They also insist on a reclassification of the road under the Kenya Roads Authority (KeRA) to improve infrastructure and accessibility in the area.
The local county assembly member, Christopher Ogom, criticized the county government’s shortcomings in providing adequate medical supplies, arguing this lack of resources further contributed to the escalating crisis.
“Devolution was supposed to bring solutions closer to the people, but we’re witnessing the opposite,” Ogom said, pointing to the county government’s failed healthcare system.
This combined health and infrastructure crisis urgently calls for swift and decisive intervention to prevent further loss and hardship in the Kargi community.