South Africa’s National Health Department has raised alarm on a possible outbreak of a bacterial infectious typhoid disease.
The department expressed its concern over the potential outbreak of the disease after a reported case of an outbreak in Zimbabwe, especially in the low-income suburb of Mbare in the capital Harare.
Concerned by the outbreak in SA’s neighboring country, health department officials are now working on an awareness campaign to ensure that if there is a case in this country it would be immediately dealt with.
“We’ll be going around the communities to tell them what it is they need to do to prevent the outbreak, but what is of most importance is that we have made sure that all of our facilities have some kind of way of dealing with it in the event that something comes their way. We are on serious high alert.” says the department’s Joe Maila.
Typhoid, also known as Typhoid fever, is a bacterial infection caused by a bacterium, Salmonella typhi. The disease is passed from person to person through poor hygiene, such as incomplete or no hand washing after using the toilet.
Carriers of the disease and who handle food can be the source of the epidemic spread.
Zimbabwe’s health officials say so far, 126 cases of typhoid have been confirmed in Harare since the start of the rainy season in Zimbabwe about two months ago. There are more than 1,000 other suspected cases nationwide.
Dozens more are said to be affected be disease as the officials raise fears that the southern African country’s water and sanitation problems are far from over.
In a way to curb the spread of the disease, the Zimbabwean government banned the vending of fruits, vegetables and meat.
“The country’s inter-ministerial committee agreed to prohibit and stop the vending of food be it processed or unprocessed in undesignated areas. These include vegetables and fruits such as mangoes, mazhanje, tomatoes, maize and other food stuffs such as cooked meat fish, sadza … to control the spread of typhoid,” said the minister of health, David Parirenyatwa.
Symptoms of typhoid include lasting high fevers, weakness, stomach pains, headache and loss of appetite. Those infected may also have constipation or a rash. In rare cases, typhoid can lead to internal bleeding and even death.