WHO sees high risk from Kenya cholera outbreak

GENEVA (Reuters) - An outbreak of cholera in Kenya poses a high risk to the region and a moderate threat globally, the World Health Organization said on Friday, after delegates at two international conferences were hit.

The spread of the disease has surged since April, affecting the capital Nairobi, a major hub for conferences in Africa, and the large refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma.

The disease, which is spread by ingesting fecal matter, hit 146 at a conference in Nairobi on June 22, and a further 136 people at the China Trade Fair on July 10-12, one of whom died.

In total, the disease, which causes acute watery diarrhea and can kill within hours if not treated, registered 1,216 suspected cases and 14 deaths between the start of the year and July 17.

“The risk of the current outbreak is assessed as high at national and regional levels and moderate at global level,” WHO said in a disease outbreak news item.

Cholera is reported in Kenya every year but large cyclical epidemics normally come every five to seven years, it said.

Kenya holds elections for the presidency, the legislature and local seats on Aug. 8.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Alison Williams