The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) has rubbished reports viral reports of an alleged outbreak of influenza in the country.

KEMRI, in a statement to newsrooms on Friday, termed the reports carried by a section of local media as incorrect and only serving to cause unnecessary panic to members of the public.

The research body said it tested 36 samples over three months from September to November this year in what it termed as its usual surveillance exercise.

From the said samples, KEMRI stated, only 4 tested positive for flu; the State body hence termed this outcome as too insignificant to warrant the declaration of an influenza outbreak.

“On average, the four positive tests within a three-month period may equate to nearly one positive case per month which does not reach the threshold of an influenza outbreak,” said KEMRI.

“Past outbreaks have involved higher percentage of cases being positive. In one incident, 150 samples testing positive from a sample of 250 and another case 14 out of 20 samples tested positive.”

According to KEMRI, a number of people having the flu at any given time is not considered an outbreak and is, matter of factly, expected since studies show that influenza viruses circulate all year.

“Indeed, previous studies have shown that Kenya records two peaks following rainy seasons. In our opinion, the information above is not sufficient to declare this as an outbreak,” stated the research body.

“Having said that, a single case of an Ebola virus or poliovirus infection is always considered an outbreak due to the severity of these infections or the virus’s eradication status, but this is not the case for influenza virus infections especially in the tropics.”

KEMRI further stated: “Overall, the public should therefore not panic about the reported ‘outbreak’ of influenza but should instead exercise higher standards of personal hygiene including hand washing, not crowding, eating healthy and visit your local health provider as preventive measures.”

By Citizen Digital

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