Health officials have differed over the reported outbreak of H1N1 prototype 9 influenza in the country.
The Director of Public Health, Dr Kepha Ombacho, on Sunday maintained that he was unaware of the outbreak of the virus despite health officials in Laikipia County confirming several cases.
“At times we need to look at the laws in the country. I don’t know where the report came from. I am not aware of the scare,” he said.
His response contradicted that of Kenyan health officials who issued an alert after samples taken from patients in Laikipia County revealed the presence of the virus.
Donald Mogoi, a chief officer in charge of health in the area, said a five-year-old boy was suspected to have died of the flu two weeks ago.
The boy died at the Nanyuki Cottage Hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia, his father said.
Mogoi said the deadly virus was confirmed by the National Public Health Laboratories.
At the Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital, there were at least 60 cases out of which 15 were admitted to the wards with symptoms of the virus, according to Evelyn Obong’o, a clinical officer at the hospital.
Mrs Obong’o, who said that most of the patients were children, added that cases of the flu have risen in the last two weeks.
In Kenya, the flu season peaks during the rainy and cold season. Children and pregnant women are the most susceptible group to the illness.
Currently, the flu vaccine is not part of the National Immunisation schedule as recommended.
During pregnancy, it is harder for a woman’s immune system to fight infections, making them more likely to get the flu and other diseases.
“Flu virus keeps changing and with the dynamics and getting a single effective vaccine for all the types is a challenge,” Dr Collins Tabu, the head of the National Vaccines and Immunisation Programme, said.