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SURVEILLANCE OF HAEMORRHAGIC FEVER IN ENDEMIC AREAS : KENYA

D.H. SMITH
Tana Project, Ministry of Health, P.O.Box 53131, Nairobi, Kenya.

Whilst Kenya is not known to be an endemic area for Ebola virus infection, its geographical proximity and the considerable volume of air traffic between Nairobi and Juba raised the possibility of virus introduction. Following notification of the outbreak in the Southern Sudan, action taken by Kenya, included the restriction of air movements, follow up of passengers arriving in the preceding two weeks and the institution of national surveillance; this consisted of alerting health services throughout the country and especially at borders and points of entry. A circular was sent to all health facilities outlining the clinical features, method of diagnosis and the required action in the event of a suspect case.

Fundamental problems in carrying out surveillance in predominantly rural populations were discussed. Particular importance must be attached to the provision of protective equipment for staff investigating possible cases and the methods of collection and transportation must be designed to ensure maximum safety whilst providing suitable material for diagnostic purposes. It was suggested that centres should be established which were able to investigate a wide range of viral diseases under maximum security and that countries should be kept informed of centres capable of carrying out this work. Suitable collection and transport equipment needs to be available locally or at least regionally to permit the prompt investigation of possible outbreaks.

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