Why Nairobi Cholera outbreak has hit on elites

Over the last several weeks, Kenya has experienced a unique Nairobi Cholera outbreak that seems hell-bent to targeting only the elites in Nairobi. The outbreaks started at a Karen wedding which saw several people hospitalized and two dead. In the Karen outbreak, it was said that travelers from Western parts of the country were the carriers of the Vibrio cholerae bacteria that found their ways to the food being served at the event. The caterer for the event went missing.

The Nairobi cholera outbreak at the Karen wedding was on mid May, and about a month later a high end hotel along Lang’ata road, Weston Hotel, was hit by another unique Nairobi cholera outbreak. This time round the government tried to cover up the outbreak, but it didn’t take long before doctors who were among the guests at Weston Hotel posted on social media results of their diagnosis indicating that they had been infected with cholera.

Most recently, actually two days ago, Cabinet Secretary in charge of the Treasury Henry Rotich together with his colleague in charge of Industries CS Adan Mohammed were treated at Nairobi hospital with cholera like symptoms. It was said that they acquired the cholera bacteria from KICC from where 50 others who were at the same event were also admitted with same symptoms.

The Nairobi cholera outbreaks that have targeted the elites have been blamed on the food. However, considering that the foods served in these places especially at Weston and KICC are freshly cooked, most likely coming from hot oven at the time of serving, it is very unlikely that the hot food is what caused the infections. For the Karen cholera outbreak, Ms Rose Araka of Trade Bells Services was blamed for the outbreak. At Weston, the source of the outbreak was mentioned as packed lunch which contained fish while the KICC was attributed to another outdoor catering firm.

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“Cholera is brought about by eating raw contaminated food, including salads. There is a misconception that eating salad in a high-end hotel is safe,” Dr Lusi said.

The most likely cause of the outbreak which seems to be overlooked is drinking water – bottled or not. According to a post by Ephraim Njega, “The cholera outbreak facing the city is most likely due to water scarcity. If you are in Nairobi CBD around 7 pm you will notice very many trucks delivering water to various buildings especially hotels. This water might not be all that clean to drink.”

The increased incidences of Nairobi cholera outbreaks at high end places means that everyone must be very careful on the “raw foods” they eat and the water they drink. The water that is being consumed must be boiled, and if bottled, must come from a trusted bottling company. Bottled water on unknown labels are most probably coming from contaminated sources e.g. boreholes that are linked to sewer systems.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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