Experts caution on Ebola in Kenya

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Barely a fortnight after medical authorities ruled out the presence of the Ebola in Kenya, scientists now say the country is home to primates carrying the virus of the deadly disease.
A scientist working with the Centre for Viral Research at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Dr.
Walter Ochieng has said that strains of the Ebola virus were recently picked out in some monkeys in Kakamega and Mount Elgon forests of western Kenya.
Ochieng told the Kenya Medical Association annual conference that Kemri's virologists had stumbled on antibodies of specimens randomly drawn from monkeys in the two forests.
"We established tell-tale signs of the Ebola viral antibodies in these specimens," Ochieng said.
More research should be done on the subject, Ochieng said, though he was "unhappy" that despite the availability of competent researchers, vital scientific studies were hampered by lack of funds.
"It is extremely important that further in-depth research is immediately done to establish the source and causes of this phenomenon before a catastrophe strikes the country," he cautioned.
Though researchers were yet to establish how animal viral diseases like the Ebola spread to humans, Ochieng said effective preventive and curative measures would be put in place only when the mode of transmission was discovered.
"We are sitting on an active volcano which can easily erupt at any moment.
We should not be complacent at all, considering the recent experiences we have seen in Uganda and Kenya", he said.
A fortnight ago a recruit at the Kenya Police Academy at Nyeri in central Kenya, Jacqueline Anyango, succumbed to a high fever, headache and bleeding through all body openings, symptoms of the deadly Ebola.
Her death and the hospitalisation of another police recruit from the same academy with similar symptoms, sent shockwaves throughout the country as medical specialists grappled with the problem.
Health authorities later ruled out the disease as the cause of the death, explaining that Anyango had died from a blood disorder related ailment, while the other trainee had been diagnosed as suffering from typhoid.
Late 2000, an Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Uganda, caused panic and forced Kenyan authorities to send screening teams to all border posts between the two countries.
A number of Kenyans who attended funerals of their relatives in Uganda were quarantined for over a week at Busia border point.

02 may 2001 07:41:00




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