There is no typhoid out­break – ex­perts

CityPress - - News - ZINHLE MAPUMULO zinhle.mapumulo@city­press.co.za

At least 19 cases of typhoid have been re­ported in South Africa this month alone. But de­spite the in­crease in con­firmed cases al­most ev­ery day, health ex­perts have as­sured South Africans there is no typhoid out­break.

Pro­fes­sor Lu­cille Blumberg, head of the epi­demi­ol­ogy divi­sion at the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases, ex­plained that it is a sea­sonal in­crease that hap­pens ev­ery Jan­uary.

“We see a num­ber of typhoid cases ev­ery month, and those re­ported thus far nei­ther rep­re­sent an un­ex­pected in­crease nor an out­break. The dis­tri­bu­tion of cases across the provinces is also in keep­ing with ex­pected trends,” she said.

“Typhoid is en­demic to South Africa and about 100 cases are re­ported ev­ery year. An in­crease in typhoid cases can be ex­pected at this time of year, on ac­count of sea­sonal changes or af­ter peo­ple have ac­quired typhoid dur­ing their trav­els in De­cem­ber.”

Typhoid fever is an ill­ness caused by a bac­te­ria called sal­mo­nella. It is trans­mit­ted when a per­son comes into con­tact with food or wa­ter that is con­tam­i­nated with fae­cal mat­ter, or comes into con­tact with some­one in­fected with typhoid.

Cross-con­tam­i­na­tion usu­ally oc­curs where there is poor san­i­ta­tion and poor hygiene re­lated to food prepa­ra­tion, or where drink­ing wa­ter is drawn from in­for­mal wa­ter sources.

Symp­toms in­clude fever, nau­sea, loss of ap­petite, headache, con­sti­pa­tion or di­ar­rhoea, small rose-coloured spots on the chest and an en­larged spleen or liver.

Of the 19 con­firmed cases of typhoid, 10 have been re­ported in Gaut­eng. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases has found that th­ese cases are not linked to each other – ex­cept for two sib­lings who con­tracted the dis­ease. At least half of the suf­fer­ers trav­elled to an area where typhoid is en­demic, like south­ern Africa, within the month pre­ced­ing their di­ag­no­sis.

Blumberg com­mended the Gaut­eng depart­ment of health for its swift re­ac­tion in iden­ti­fy­ing and treat­ing typhoid.

How­ever, she noted it was likely that more cases would be re­ported in the next few weeks as more peo­ple re­turn to South Africa from their fes­tive trav­els in other coun­tries. “Ev­ery case re­ported will be in­ves­ti­gated timeously by health of­fi­cials to con­firm the likely source and en­sure the health of the pub­lic,” she said.

“Health­care work­ers at clin­ics and hospi­tals are on the look­out for cases of typhoid. They will also en­sure other con­di­tions that present with sim­i­lar signs and symp­toms (such as malaria) are ap­pro­pri­ately di­ag­nosed and treated.”

If de­tected early, typhoid can be treated with a one- or two-week course of an­tibi­otics. In more se­ri­ous cases, hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion and the in­tra­venous ad­min­is­tra­tion of an­tibi­otics may be nec­es­sary.

What you need to know about typhoid

Sev­eral cases of typhoid, in­clud­ing one death, have been con­firmed in Jo­han­nes­burg

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