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Health ministry reveals what’s ailing Starehe Girls students

The Ministry of Health has ruled out a disease infection at Starehe Girls Centre that which saw the institution closed for four days on Thursday.

In a statement, the Ministry said two tests had concluded mass psychogenic illness (MPI) also called mass hysteria.

As a result, the Ministry said it had advised the school to remove the girls from the school environment and allow them to go home for a few days.

“Further, individual psychological evaluation of the affected students is being undertaken to understand the trigger of the occurrence as well as group therapy for the students, staff and caregivers,” added the statement.

On September 28, the Ministry of Health was notified by the school administration of students presenting with an unusual cough.

It started with 12 girls who were complaining of cough, sneezing and throat soreness.


The Ministry dispatched an advance team of experts to the school to investigate and assess the situation.

“On examination the girls were found to have no fever and were in stable condition. No teaching staff or support staff in the school were affected,” added the statement.

The team collected specimens that were tested for various viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens at the National Public Health Laboratories.

The laboratory results indicated that no significant viruses or bacteria were identified except for two cases of rhinovirus, the most common viral infectious agent in humans and a predominant cause of common cold.

However, on October 2, the number of affected girls rose to 68 forcing the Ministry to dispatch another team.

On Thursday, Nairobi Regional Director of Education Jared Obiero chaired a meeting that resolved to close the school. It will reopen on Monday, October 7 for their exams that begin on Tuesday.

Mr Oberio said the decision had been arrived at after the ministry officials met the school management board.

“We are giving the girls a health break as advised by the Ministry of health,” said the regional director of education.