NAIROBI, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an alert on the dengue viral disease in Kenya following 28 confirmed cases in neighboring Somalia, the UN humanitarian agency said on Wednesday.
WHO's Department of Public Health said the alert followed a positive identification of seven out of eight samples of the disease it tested in mid-January.
"WHO and partners have taken immediate action for dengue control in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia. As of Jan. 27, 28 cases had been reported in Mogadishu," the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its latest Humanitarian Bulletin released in Nairobi.
Dengue fever was last reported in northern Kenya in 2011, in Mandera town, bordering Somalia and Ethiopia.
The disease, associated with large population movements, was at the time traced to African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops stationed in the war-torn country, and who frequented the Kenya border.
According to WHO, the disease, whose symptoms are similar to those of malaria, is now present in 125 countries and was in 2012 ranked as the world's fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease, with an estimated 6,000 deaths annually.
The UN health agency said there is no specific treatment for dengue but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers the risk.
However, Kenya's health official has assured the public that the situation is under control. Head of Disease Prevention in the ministry of Public Health, Willis Akhwale has assured the public that measures have been put in place to avert any threats that may be caused by dengue.
"We never had this disease for a very long time, but two years ago we received cases of people who had contracted the disease," Akhwale said, adding that most of the patients hailed from Mandera.
"There have been reported cases of dengue in Somalia and Ethiopia, and the disease has obviously affected people living in Mandera due to their border point connection with the two states."
Meanwhile, WHO said an estimated 140 suspected cholera cases were reported in Somalia between Jan. 21-27, a 57 percent increase compared to the previous week.
All suspected cases were reported in Banadir region of central Somalia. Of these, 67 percent are children under age two.
"WHO and partners have enhanced surveillance and increased intensive health and hygiene promotion campaigns to curb the spread of the disease," the report said.