Murang’a County has in the recent past recorded increased cases of Tuberculosis (TB).
Last year, the county recorded 2, 580 cases of TB, a number which the County TB and Leprosy Coordinator, Lucy Irungu, has termed as highest since the inception of devolution.
Murang’a South Sub-county recorded the highest number of cases, where 534 people were diagnosed followed by Kiharu which had 442 cases.
In the year 2021, the county recorded 1, 902 cases, while in 2020, 1, 846 people tested positive for TB.
Irungu noted that last year, 25 patients were diagnosed with drug-resistant TB, which she termed as dangerous since the condition may easily cause complications leading to death.
In the months of January and February this year, 276 residents were diagnosed with the airborne disease, where among them are 25 children.
Irungu observed that some of the people visiting medical facilities with flu-like symptoms turned out to be suffering from TB after diagnosis.
Irungu told KNA that the majority of children with the disease are aged below five years.
“18 out of all the children who have been diagnosed with TB are below five years. This is due to low immunity among the infants,” she stated.
The coordinator attributed the high rate of the disease to effects of Covid-19, saying when the rate of coronavirus in the country was high, many people shied- off from visiting medical facilities.
“TB is an airborne disease and can easily be transmitted. The period when the majority of people shied off from visiting hospitals, TB infection increased and currently those seeking medication after experiencing coughing are largely being diagnosed with TB,” she explained.
Irungu divulged that the health department has stepped up diagnosis of TB where every Sub County has been allocated a motorcycle to collect samples for testing.
She confirmed that there are four molecular diagnostic centres, including Murang’a County Referral, Maragua Rural, Muriranjas, and Kirwara hospitals.
“Diagnosis of TB has been made easy by the availability of four molecular diagnostic centers and microscopy TB testing is also being done in other 122 medical facilities within the County,” stated Irungu saying they are also doing free chest x-rays for children aged below 15 years to ascertain if there have the disease.
The coordinator urged residents with coughing, excessive night sweating, and unintentional loss of weight symptoms, to visit any medical facility for TB testing.
“For children, once a parent notices the child has unending coughing or flu and is not playful, they should take the child for diagnosis.
“All the county public health facilities, including faith-based and some private hospitals are well stocked with drugs for TB,” she remarked.
She said when a patient is put under medication and properly adheres to medical instructions, the disease becomes less infectious.
“Failure of taking medication as directed by a medical officer may lead to drug-resistant TB, and this results in severe repercussions. Treatment of drug-resistant TB is very expensive both for the individual and the government; and takes a longer period to be fully treated,” the coordinator cautioned.