Kenya on Thursday issued a cholera outbreak alert after the disease killed 60 people in recent weeks, compounding a health nightmare in the country reeling from months of political violence.
Kenya's Director of Medical Services James Nyikal said the outbreak had occurred in 16 districts in the western region, most of which were affected by violence spurred by disputed elections in December.
"So far, there have been 1,217 cases of the disease and 59 deaths reported. Most of the deaths occurred at home or on their way to hospital," he told a press conference here. One more death was reported in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha early Thursday.
Officials say the death toll could be much higher since many deaths are not reported to authorities for tallying.
Nyikal said health workers had fanned to the affected districts in a bit to contain the water-borne disease.
"I appeal to the public to observe proper hygiene and seek medical care immediately when they develop the symptoms," he added.
Health experts have warned of a possible disease outbreak in camps housing hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the tribal fightings, revenge killings and police crackdown.
Cholera is a waterborne disease which causes serious diarrhoea and vomiting and can be fatal if not treated within 24 hours. It can be prevented by washing hands before touching food and avoiding contaminated drinking water.