Bu­l­awayo on cholera alert

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Than­deka Moyo Bu­l­awayo Bureau

THREE people, two of whom re­cently vis­ited Harare, have been quar­an­tined in Bu­l­awayo after con­tract­ing sus­pected cholera.

The Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil yes­ter­day moved swiftly to spray (de­con­tam­i­nate) the homes of the pa­tients to ar­rest a pos­si­ble spread of the disease be­fore whisk­ing them to Thorn­grove In­fec­tious Dis­eases Hospi­tal.

The hospi­tal has a quar­an­tine cen­tre that coun­cil set up in case cholera breaks out in the city.

The Min­istry of Health and Child Care has said the disease has killed at least 28 people and affected about 4 600 in Harare where it broke out while about 13 people have died from ty­phoid, an­other wa­ter-borne disease, in Gweru.

BCC se­nior pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer Mrs Ne­sisa Mpofu said the three pa­tients re­side in Pu­mula, Em­gan­wini and En­tum­bane sub­urbs.

“One pa­tient is a 38-year-old Em­gan­wini res­i­dent who trav­elled to Harare and stayed in Glen View for two weeks. She de­vel­oped di­ar­rhoea yes­ter­day while in the city cen­tre and was rushed to Mpilo Cen­tral Hospi­tal where she was moved to Thorn­grove Hospi­tal. She was treated as a prob­a­ble case of cholera ac­cord­ing to the guide­lines and is cur­rently sta­ble though we await lab re­sults be­fore we can dis­charge her,” she said.

Lab re­sults are ex­pected to be out in 48 hours.

Mrs Mpofu said a 58-year-old man from Pu­mula who never left Bu­l­awayo and has no con­tact with a pos­si­ble case of cholera is also un­der quar­an­tine at Thorn­grove Hospi­tal.

“The third pa­tient is a 26-yearold male from Budiriro (in Harare) and stays in En­tum­bane. He de­vel­oped di­ar­rhoea and was ad­mit­ted yes­ter­day. He is in iso­la­tion and un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion as he is a prob­a­ble case of cholera,” she said.

Mrs Mpofu said only three cases had been recorded by 4pm yes­ter­day.

“We also quar­an­tined a woman who spent a week in Gweru who pre­sented ty­phoid-like symp­toms. She was sta­ble this af­ter­noon and is likely to be sent home soon,” she said.

Mrs Mpofu re­cently al­layed cholera fears em­pha­sis­ing the fact that Bu­l­awayo wa­ter is safe for drink­ing and cook­ing.

“The spread of cholera is fa­cil­i­tated by hu­man be­hav­iour more than other things. Even if and when it reaches the city, it is im­por­tant for res­i­dents to visit the near­est health fa­cil­ity at the on­set of any di­ar­rhoeal disease es­pe­cially those with a his­tory of travel to affected ar­eas.”

A source within the lo­cal au­thor­ity who pre­ferred anonymity said coun­cil of­fi­cials flooded En­tum­bane Clinic when they were alerted of the recorded case.

“The whole clinic was sprayed after the pa­tient was quar­an­tined. Our col­leagues even went to his home to spray just to en­sure our city is cholera-free as has al­ways been the case,” the source said.

“We un­der­stand there are two other sus­pected cases at Thorn­grove Clinic and these are people who came to Bu­l­awayo from Harare. They were given med­i­ca­tion and are in a sta­ble con­di­tion,” said the source.

Bu­l­awayo was rel­a­tively un­scathed by the cholera epi­demic that swept the coun­try in 2008-9 mainly due to its dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness pro­grammes and tough en­force­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal and health by-laws.

Po­lice in Bu­l­awayo have since launched an op­er­a­tion targeting ven­dors who sell food at un­des­ig­nated ar­eas in a bid to fight cholera.

“Po­lice in con­junc­tion with Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil are ar­rest­ing all those found on the wrong side of the law in a bid to clear the streets of Bu­l­awayo. We are targeting street ven­dors, touts who uri­nate and re­lieve them­selves in san­i­tary lanes, people who throw lit­ter on the streets and who sell meat with­out li­cences,” said po­lice spokeper­son Chief In­spec­tor Pre­cious Si­mango.

She ap­pealed to mem­bers of the pub­lic to de­sist from buy­ing food from un­li­censed out­lets.

“They should prac­tice high lev­els of hy­giene and avoid shak­ing hands with ev­ery­one. They should seek med­i­cal ser­vices when­ever they sus­pect they are not feel­ing well,” Chief Insp Si­mango said.

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