SA typhoid warn­ing af­ter Zim out­breaks

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

NA­TIONAL and pro­vin­cial health of­fi­cials are on high alert with con­tin­gency plans in place since an in­crease in in­ci­dents of typhoid fever cases in Zim­babwe.

Typhoid is a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion caused by Sal­mo­nella Typhi, al­though symp­toms over­lap with a num­ber of other in­fec­tious diseases also seen in the re­gion – no­tably malaria.

Symp­toms in­clude fever, headaches, chills and sweats, ab­dom­i­nal pain, con­sti­pa­tion or di­ar­rhoea, or even a skin rash with faint pink spots.

Na­tional health spokesper­son Joe Maila said while of­fi­cials re­mained alert, no cases had been re­ported in South Africa.

“This is an aware­ness drive on our part in a proac­tive man­ner, af­ter cases of typhoid were con­firmed in Zim­babwe. We are en­sur­ing that all our peo­ple, in­clud­ing health work­ers, are on alert. Our fa­cil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly in Lim­popo, as it bor­ders Zim­babwe, are ready to re­spond in the event that an out­break oc­curs,” said Maila.

He called on South Africans to prac­tise good hy­giene and be alert to avoid and pre­vent the spread of the in­fec­tion.

In 2015 there were 72 cases re­ported in the Western Cape, 103 in 2014 and 34 cases re­ported for 2016.

The Na­tional In­sti­tute for Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Diseases raised aware­ness fol­low­ing the re­cent in­crease in the num­ber of cases re­ported in Zim­babwe, and warned of the in­creased risk of im­por­ta­tion of cases into South Africa.

“While an out­break of typhoid in South Africa is not an­tic­i­pated, it is im­por­tant that per­sons with symp­toms sug­ges­tive of typhoid re­ceive ap­pro­pri­ate and early di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment. Typhoid is en­demic in south­ern Africa, with sea­sonal in­creases in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary,” the state­ment said.

Western Cape health spokesper­son Dar­ren Fran­cis said health fa­cil­i­ties and staff had been alerted to en­sure pro­ce­dures were in place to de­tect, re­port and in­ves­ti­gate cases promptly.

“Typhoid is preva­lent in sum­mer and the dis­ease is trans­mit­ted orally. Peo­ple should al­ways prac­tise safe hy­giene as typhoid can only spread in en­vi­ron­ments where hu­man fae­ces or urine come into con­tact with food or drink­ing wa­ter,” said Fran­cis.

He said there was an on­go­ing risk in any area where wa­ter qual­ity and san­i­ta­tion were not op­ti­mal.

“Should a sus­pected case be re­ported, tests will be con­ducted to con­firm the di­ag­no­sis.

“Con­tacts of the typhoid case will be fol­lowed up by pub­lic health of­fi­cials to en­sure the con­trol and pre­ven­tion of fur­ther cases,” said Fran­cis.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are ad­vised to seek care from their lo­cal health­care providers if they find them­selves ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any of the symp­toms.

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