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Food banned at burial of man who contracted cholera at Karen wedding

No meals will be cooked or eaten at the burial of one of the four people who died from cholera last week after attending a wedding in Nairobi two weeks ago.

Mr Stephen Musalia Kidake’s burial at Kigama village, Vihiga County, on Saturday, will be unique, as feasts are usual at funerals among communities in western Kenya.

Ministry of Health officials also told the bereaved family that the body “should be buried immediately” upon arrival from Nairobi.

A niece of the deceased’s, Ms Lydia Webala, told the Nation on Thursday: “I think they are afraid of another outbreak and are trying to contain the disease. We understand.”

The order is part of the global Cholera Management Guidelines, which point out funerals — alongside other social gatherings — as avenues for the spread of the infectious bacterial disease.

Funerals may bring people from uninfected areas into an infected area, from which they can pick up the cholera organism.

Therefore, the World Health Organisation proposes that ministries should make efforts to “limit funeral gatherings, ritual washing of the dead and funeral feasts”. To reduce the spread of infection, says the WHO. Funerals “should be held quickly and near the place of death”.


However, if funeral feasts cannot be cancelled, “meticulous hand-washing with soap and clean water is essential before the food is handled,” the guidelines add. A designated health worker is recommended to attend the event to supervise hygiene.

This comes a day after the Ministry of Health confirmed a cholera outbreak in the country in “early May 2017”.

Director of Medical Services Jack Kioko says the first two cases were reported in Mathare, Nairobi, before it spread to other areas of the country.

“Cumulatively, a total of 146 cases, including four deaths, have been reported as at May 21, 2017,” Dr Kioko said in a statement.

“The cases are distributed as follows: Garissa (88 cases), Nairobi (29 cases with 1 death), Vihiga (15 cases with 2 deaths), Mombasa (2 cases), Murang’a (11 cases with 1 death) and Kiambu (1 case).”

He added: “Some of the cases reported in Nairobi, Mombasa and Vihiga are associated with a wedding held in Karen, Nairobi, over a week ago.”