On 28 May 2016, the Ministry of Health of Kenya notified WHO of an outbreak of Chikungunya in Mandera East sub-county.
The first reports of an increase in cases with febrile illness and joint pains occurred in May 2016. Samples were collected and shipped to the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Arboviral Laboratory in Nairobi. On 16 May, KEMRI laboratory confirmed 7 of the 10 samples tested positive for Chikungunya virus. All samples tested negative for other arboviruses including: dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses.
Moreover, from partial sequencing of the envelope gene it was observed that the CHIK isolates from Mandera are grouped with isolates from the post-2005 Indian Ocean islands, Asia and Europe. Full genome sequencing is underway.
To date, KEMRI has received a total of 177 samples of suspected cases in the laboratory for testing. Of thse, 53 of these came from Somalia and rest from Mandera. 57 were positive by IgM antibody testing and 38 were positive for CHIK virus by RT-PCR. Of the positives, 9 were both IgM and PCR positive.
As of 30 June 2016, 1,792 cases had been line listed. No deaths have been reported so far. However there is a risk of underreporting of cases since many patients are not reporting to health facilities. There have been outbreaks of Chikungunya in neighbouring Bula Hawa region in Somalia border region originating from Mogadishu. It is estimated that about 80% of the population and 50% of the health work force in Mandera town were affected by Chikungunya. Cases with severe debilitating joint pains were being managed as inpatients for a short duration for 1 or 2 days. However, the majority of the cases are not seeking treatment in health facilities.