NAIROBI – “Several” participants at a medical conference at a hotel in Nairobi have come down with a foodborne disease suspected to be cholera, the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) said Friday.
Rapid screening tests were positive for cholera as further tests were underway to confirm the diagnosis, the association said in a statement.
“We are, however, reasonably convinced that this is an outbreak of cholera, given the very low likelihood that a majority of the screening tests would be falsely positive,” the association said. “We would like to note that diseases like cholera are markers of a broken health system, specifically a broken primary health care system.”
The Nairobi County government last month issued an alert over a cholera outbreak.
Nairobi County’s health chief, Dr. Bernard Muia, on Thursday told a news agency that gastroenteritis instead was suspected in the illnesses at the Weston Hotel.
The medical association also said it took “great exception” to statements attributed to health ministry officials “allegedly exonerating the hotel that was the clear nexus of this infection, and instead blaming the victims.”
Cholera is a fast-developing, highly contagious infection that can spread in areas without clean drinking water and with poor sanitation.
The cholera outbreak comes as nurses at public hospitals across the East African country have gone on strike over pay and benefits. About 200 doctors at Nairobi County’s public hospitals also are on strike over pay.