The Perils Of the Kenyan Cholera Outbreak

There are a lot of things people like us living in big progressive cities for granted such as clean water, an abundance of food, available healthcare services, etc. Meanwhile, people from other parts of the globe struggle to even have access to food, water, and other basic commodities. And as if the African drought and famine ravaging various parts of Africa right now aren’t enough to make the lives of millions of Africans miserable, there is now the bigger problem of cholera that they are now facing and is putting their health at grave risk.

Nairobi is hit by a cholera outbreak that has stripped all African food handlers their medical licenses. Over 300 cases of cholera have been reported over the last three months. Then, the problem about drug resistance has also surfaced making treatment doubly harder than it already is. Cholera is actually no longer new in the African continent as they have been facing this threat for the past couple of centuries with poor water supply infrastructure and sanitation as chronic issues that predisposes the region to problems like this one.

Drug resistance to the bacteria that causes cholera would be a big blow to the treatment of the disease, especially in developing countries.

Our study found out that bacteria that causes cholera has become resistant to some antibiotics needed to treat the disease effectively.

In the last 10 years, we investigated antimicrobial resistance in Vibrio cholerae strains. The findings showed that it had become resistant to nalidixic acid, trimethoprim, sulphamethoxazole, streptomycin and furazolidone.

Whereas these medicines can no longer treat cholera, the good news is that it is still treatable with doxycycline, which has remained a preferred drug of choice.

The observed strains of cholera that occurred during outbreaks between 2012 and 2016 in Kenya were resistant to ceftriaxone in a class of antibiotics known as third generation cephalosporins. This is a reserve drug commonly used to treat severe infections. The resistance was first observed in patients with salmonella, a type of bacteria that cause bloodstream infections especially in people with low immunity.

Some types of drug resistance are caused by a natural interaction of the Vibrio cholerae bacteria with other drug resistant bacteria in the environment. The overuse of antibiotics by people also contributes to drug resistance.


But overcoming this problem isn’t that easy as we all know the current state in the region is. Aside from famine, drought, dwindling resources, and political unrest, there is also a greater need to educate the citizens thoroughly educated about proper hand washing technique and the handling of food and water supply. The problem with drug resistance is likewise not uncommon in a third-world continent like Africa. In reality, the problems are big and it keeps on getting bigger as no solutions are laid out by African leaders who are busy enriching themselves than looking out for their people.

Denial, poor preparedness and a lack of a medical emergency response strategy might have contributed to the death of several people who contracted cholera. At least 14 people have died in the last few weeks and more than 400 new cases reported since the outbreak was first publicly reported in Nairobi, with experts warning that many factors beleaguering the health system and the County Government might work against efforts to contain the outbreak. Now, authorities stand accused of mishandling an outbreak that could turn into an epidemic.

Investigations by the Sunday Standard reveal that dozens of cholera cases within the city are undocumented. One hospital in Nairobi’s Embakasi area recorded 22 cholera cases in a span of two weeks. All the patients frequented one eatery.


There are many more undocumented cholera cases that occur in various parts of the city. But up to date, the local officials still haven’t found the cause of this specific outbreak and the numbers are expected to rise as the days go by. Cholera is actually easily treatable but the many factors like rampant corruption, pollution, and various infrastructure projects all helped it spread far and wide and difficult to manage too. The rest of the world should not just be outsiders watching these events take place from afar but at least offer help especially those NGOs that exist to help the poor and the suffering members of society when the needs arise.

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