Kenya: Meningococcal meningitis outbreak report: - West Pokot district-Rift valley province - Mar-Apr 2006


On 23rd January 2006, the Kenyan ministry of health headquarters received reports of increased number of suspected meningitis cases and deaths in West Pokot district. The affected divisions were mainly Kacheliba, Alale and Kasei that borders the Republic of Uganda to the west where meningococcal meningitis outbreak had been confirmed.

A team comprising members from the Disease Outbreak Management Unit (DOMU) of Ministry of Health, Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), MSF Spain and other local stake holders were sent to the district to investigate the suspected outbreak. The team indeed confirmed that there was an on going meningitis outbreak. Three Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) specimen cultures done by district lab grew some colonies that revealed gram negative diplococci. Sero-typing could not be done by the district laboratory technologist at that time due to lack of latex Kit.

While in the field the team from headquarters tested 3 CSF samples which showed the following results:

Name of patient
Date CSF sample tested
Gram stain
Reaction wiht Latex kit
K Brenda
Few pus cells
No growth obtained
Not done
60 years
Gram Negative diploccoci
Gram Negative collonies
Negative Reaction with Nm A and Nm y/w135
Nancy Jacob
Pus cell with Gram
Negative diploccoci
No growth obtained
Not done

As of 16th February a total of 62 cases of meningococcal meningitis including 15 deaths had been reported (CFR of 24%) in 4 divisions i.e. Kacheliba, Alale, Kasei and Chebareria.

It was on the above basis that the ministry of Health brought on board various stakeholders to plan and implement response activities. The response activities involved strengthening the district on

- Active Surveillance

- Case Management

- Laboratory confirmation

- Public awareness

- Data management

- Emergency immunization of the population at risk

The National Stakeholders that formed the taskforce included:

Ministry of Health
World Health Organization (WHO)
MSF - Spain
Africa Medical Research Foundation (AMREF)
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Kenya Red Cross Society
Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC)
Sight Savers International
Kenya Army


2.1 District profile

West Pokot is one of the 19 districts forming the Rift valley Province. It borders the Republic of Uganda to the west, Turkana District to North, Trans-Nzoia District to the South West, Baringo and Marakwet Districts to the East and South East respectively.

Position and size

The area 9100km2
Population 379499
Population<15yrs 184045
Divisions 10
Locations 58
Sub-Locations 188

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