Students at Mukumu Girls High School may have been exposed to contaminated water for a long period, resulting in a disease outbreak in March, according to Health CS Susan Nakhumicha.
The Health CS explained that an environmental evaluation conducted at the school revealed a concurrent flow of sewage, spring water, and piped water, presenting a significant risk of water contamination within the institution.
Improper waste disposal and sewage flow blockages, causing overflow and spillage into the spring and staff quarters, were identified as additional exposure points.
Cs Nakhumicha noted that the school’s infrastructure was under strain due to the high student population.
all the hostels were having more than 100 per cent of the required bed capacity leading to overcrowding,” she noted
Nakhumicha appeared before the National Assembly to clarify the circumstances surrounding the unknown disease outbreak at Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega county in March.
The outbreak resulted in the deaths of three students and one teacher, with over 100 students being hospitalized.
The investigating team collected various human, food, and water samples.
“Laboratory results from human samples, including stool, blood, and postmortem tissue cultures, confirmed the presence of multiple disease-causing microorganisms,” she stated.
The predominant organisms were enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) and Salmonella typhi.
Nakhumicha explained that infection with salmonella and E. coli occurs through the ingestion of water or food contaminated with typhoidal salmonella and E. coli. Asymptomatic carriers play a significant role in contamination and onward transmission.
To address the situation and prevent future outbreaks in schools nationwide, the government has implemented various measures including treating drinking and cooking water on school premises and ensuring medical certification of all food handlers in the school.
As part of long-term measures, the ministry has strengthened disease surveillance in schools across Kenya, employing subcounty disease surveillance coordinators.
The ministry has also intensified advocacy efforts in community forums such as churches and community gatherings, focusing on the prevention of waterborne diseases.
Collaborating with other ministries, including the Ministry of Education, the ministry aims to enforce the implementation of the National School Health Policy and the Comprehensive School Health Programme.