No ebola in Kenya and there is no vaccine

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony, who made the announcement in Kericho town, said she would be moved from isolation to the general ward for continued treatment.

The Kenyan woman had travelled to Uganda and is known to have been in contact with three people, including her husband.

She then checked into Siloam Hospital on Sunday night with headaches, fever, and vomiting.

She was transferred to Kericho County Referral Hospital yesterday and isolated.

“The sample tested negative for Ebola,” Chepkwony said.

The sample was also tested against Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever and Malaria, all turning negative.

“The two other patients who had contact with her and were isolated have also been released because they are not sick,” Chepkwony said.

Kericho Health CEC Shadrack Mutai said the woman would be discharged in two or three days.

“Once the patient recovers, in two or three days, she will be let go home,” he said.

“We will also inform the village where she comes from that she has no Ebola and is free to mingle.”

Earlier in Nairobi, the Ministry of Health had already ruled out Ebola saying the symptoms did not match Ebola symptoms at all.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said: “The rapid surveillance and response team has examined the patient who is in stable condition and has confirmed that she does not meet the case definition for Ebola.”

She spoke at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where health workers are screening arriving passengers through thermal cameras.

Separately, health officials indicated Kenyans would wait longer to access an Ebola vaccine.

The World Health Organisation said the existing anti-Ebola vaccine, which is 97 per cent effective, is only being doled out to frontline health workers and most at-risk people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

The WHO said there is only one investigational vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV, which has shown to be safe and protective against the Zaire strain of the virus.

WHO said the vaccine has not been commercially licensed. “The vaccine is, therefore, being used on a compassionate basis, to protect persons at highest risk of the Ebola outbreak,” the organisation said in a statement.

The VSV has been genetically engineered to contain a protein from the Zaire Ebola virus so that it can provoke an immune response to the Ebola virus.

It was tested in Kenya, Europe, the US, and other African countries but has not yet undergone a complete clinical trial.

Separately, US Centre for Disease Control director Robert Redfield said there is currently a global stockpile of about 145,000 doses of the vaccine, while roughly 130,000 people in DRC have been vaccinated so far.

This represents only about 20 per cent of the number of people that responders would like to be able to reach.

Redfield said the pharmaceutical company manufacturing the vaccine is yet to produce more.

Unfortunately, there’s going to be a six to 12-month lag before there’s adequate vaccine supply,” he said. 

The vaccine, produced by drugs company Merck, has shown an efficacy rate of about 97 per cent.

Yesterday, the WHO commenced vaccination in the Ugandan village where the virus killed three people.

“We are going to the communities where the confirmed cases were identified and vaccinating those families in what we are calling ring vaccination,” said Benjamin Sensasi, WHO health promotions and communications officer in Uganda.

Those being given priority in Uganda are health workers and people who had contact with the two patients who died.

The vaccination is being done at Kagando, Bwera, and Mpondwe in Kasese district in western Uganda, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Health said it has established Ebola Rapid Response Teams comprising medical specialists in disease control and laboratory scientists who are trained in investigation and testing for Ebola virus.

“The ministry has a total workforce of 229 staff deployed at various ports of entry and in addition 21 Ebola champions have been deployed to support the team,” Kariuki said.

She said Kenyans who experience fever, chills, headaches and have a history of recent travel to affected countries should present themselves to the nearest health facility.

“They can also contact the Ministry of Health’s emergency operations centre through hotlines 0732353535 and 0729471414,” she said. 

At the Busia Kenya Port Health Desk, all arriving travellers including truck drivers now have to undergo Ebola screening.

Busia chief officer for health and sanitation Dr Isaac Omeri said a surveillance team is assessing the border situation and will make recommendations.

He said there is an isolation ward at the Busia County Referral Hospital and at Malaba dispensary where any suspected Ebola cases are quarantined, awaiting medication.

The virus usually spreads easily from person to person, potentially affecting a large number of people.

It spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, faeces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with or has died of Ebola.

Others are objects (such as needles and syringes) contaminated with body fluids from a sick person.

When someone gets infected with Ebola, they will not show signs or symptoms of illness right away. 

The current outbreak of Ebola in DR Congo is the second-worst in history.

Only the West African epidemic of 2014, which killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, claimed more lives.

In Congo, some 1,400 people have died since August, two-thirds of the roughly 2,000 who contracted the disease. 

Once an outbreak is contained, it takes 42 days for a country to be declared free of Ebola transmission.

WHO doubles the 21-day incubation period of the virus to ensure no new infections are happening.