Health CS says 5 tests fail to unravel strange Eregi girls illness

Health CS says 5 tests fail to unravel strange Eregi girls illness

The government has not identified any pathogen in the five tests it conducted on samples collected at Eregi Girls High School after close to 100 students fell ill on Monday, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha has said.

Ms Nakhumicha, who was addressing members of the National Assembly Public Investment Committee on Education and Governance, said more tests will be done to determine the illness.

“We have been in contact with the Director of Public Health and, as of yesterday [Tuesday], there were 95 girls hospitalised. By the end of today [yesterday], we anticipate having a comprehensive report. So far, five tests have been conducted, and no pathogens have been identified.

However, additional samples have been sent to Kenya Medical Research Institute in Nairobi for further analysis,” said Ms Nakhumicha when asked about the issue.

She had appeared in Parliament over the ongoing tussle between Kenyatta University and Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital on use of the hospital by medical students Infected students at Eregi Girls complained of painful knees, which they said made it difficult for them to stand or walk.

Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu, who appeared alongside Ms Nakhumicha, said students who were sent home will report to school on Monday.

Meanwhile, at the school, resumption of learning remained in doubt ahead of the national examinations after most parents went home with their daughters.

Parents continued to throng the school to pick up their children yesterday even after Ministry of Education officials insisted that learning must go on.

A desk was set up to receive and record parents who are willing to go with their daughters home.

They were issued with forms detailing name, class, admission number and reasons why the parent was taking the child away.

Western regional Director of Education Jared Obiero had ordered the headteacher, Ms Jackline Itubo, to ensure learning went on for the remaining three weeks.

He asked parents to leave their children in school for close monitoring by health officials.

“Form Four students who are due to begin their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams will remain in school,” said Mr Obiero.

But a teacher said five Form Four candidates had accompanied their parents back home.

Dr Steven Wandei, the director of Medical Services in Kakamega County, had also warned against parents taking their daughters home for fear of further spreading the disease.

“We have not established the nature of the disease that has affected these students. Taking them home could be risky because, if the disease is infectious, it is likely to wipe out the entire family,” warned Dr Wandei.

Ms Pascaline Kithuka, a parent from Malava, went home with her daughter, a Form Four student, claiming she was traumatised.

“Her best friend is among the victims and she does not have peace. I decided to take her home so that I could talk to her and take her to church for counselling before she returns to sit for her final exams,” said Ms Kithuka.

Another parent, Mr Paul Kibisu, said that, since a majority of the students were leaving the school, he had no reason to leave his daughter behind.

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