15 MARCH, VIHIGA COUNTY, WESTERN KENYA --The Ministry of Health in Vihiga Sub-County confirmed an outbreak of typhoid fever at Kisingilu Primary School in Dabwongo. The school's water source was tested and found to have high levels of e-coli and other bacteria. Twenty students at the school tested positive for tyhphoid fever, while an additional 42 were sick and sent home from school. Vestergaard, the manufacturer of LifeStraw® Community water purifiers, rushed to deliver six high-volume purifiers to the school on Friday, 13 March, enough to serve the entire student body for several years. The purifiers were made possible by funds raised through the U.S.-based not-for-profit Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF).
LifeStraw® Community is a high-volume point-of-use water purifier with built-in safe storage that converts contaminated water into safe drinking water. It's made of durable plastic, is chemical free, and doesn't require electrical power or batteries. It removes 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.999% of viruses and 99.99% of protozoa, and reduces turbidity (muddiness). Each can purify between 70,000 -100,000 liters of water, enough to serve community settings for several years.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by water contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella
Typhi. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people with typhoid usually have a sustained fever as high as 103° to 104° F. They may also feel weak, or have stomach pains, headache, or loss of appetite. Most cases of typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics.
The typhoid outbreak in Dabwongo village was first noticed by the head teacher at Kisingulu school, after many students were staying home sick. The local Ministry of Health visited the school and village on 19 February and confirmed an outbreak of typhoid. The Ministry tested the school's water source which is shared by the village. They also surveyed homes of the sick children and found that 94 percent of the 70 households surveyed were purifying their water: 70 percent use LifeStraw® Family 1.0 (household) purifiers, 23 percent use another water purification technique. The problem seemed to come from the lack of water treatment in the school.
On 10 March, the sub-county public health office called a meeting of local stakeholders. Sub-County Public Health Officer Kennedy Otiende stated, "I have been involved in this since the outbreak when I
was alerted and I ensured tests were done to show what the problem was. I encourage everyone to use LifeStraw or other water treatment at home to prevent getting sick. Purified water should be used for drinking, washing hands, fruits and vegetables. I am ready to work with the community to fight this situation."
Vestergaard rushed to secure six LifeStraw® Community water purifiers, which company representatives set up in the school on Friday, 13 March. School staff and students were taught about safe water practices and how to use and maintain the purifiers. "Our partnership with CELF and our ongoing presence in western Kenya enabled us to respond rapidly to this outbreak. We're so happy to be able to provide a solution that will not only address the outbreak, but will also help to keep these school children healthy over the long term," Steve Otieno, Kenya–Country Director at Vestergaard told the group. He also thanked CELF for the rapid allocation of funds to pay for the purifiers.
Alex Odanga, a student at the school noted that "the water we have been taking was very dirty. Some pupils got sick and were taken to the hospital, some are still there. Because of this, parents are using money to buy medicine. I am happy that now we have the LifeStraw® Community, we will take safe water and have good health. Parents will not use money on medicine," he added.
LifeStraw® is manufactured by Vestergaard (vestergaard.com), a Swiss-based global company dedicated to improving the health of disadvantaged people with game-changing solutions that fight malaria, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal disease and neglected tropical diseases. The company is the largest producer of long-lasting insecticidal bed nets that prevent malaria under the PermaNet® brand, and its award-winning LifeStraw® water filters have been designed for individual, family and community uses. Under the ongoing LifeStraw® Follow the Liters program, for each LifeStraw® product purchased by someone in the developed world, one school child in a developing community is provided with
safe drinking water for an entire school year.
About the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF)
CELF is a not-for-profit organization that provides programs in Education for Sustainability for U.S. schools. In 2013 CELF established an educational fundraising platform for high school students, "CELF Student Ambassadors" to learn about the global freshwater crisis and to provide LifeStraw® Community
purifiers for schools in developing communities. The contributions to CELF's "100 schools" campaign have come from a variety of school fundraisers across the world. CELF has raised enough money to purchase and distribute 58 LifeStraw® Community purifiers which are providing safe water to more than 4,000 school children in Kenya and Haiti. The campaign is ongoing and more information can
be found at http://celfeducation.org/lifestrawdonation.html.
Link to photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yz5w2ur1kaq07kj/AADJqZBsbu1wejqKt3VkRza4a?dl=0
Meryl Rader, Communications Director,