Cape Town: The National Department of Health has sounded the alarm over a diarrhoeal disease outbreak that has led to deaths, and a spike in cholera cases.
According to the department, it was informed of cases of people presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, in the past few days, and this has led to over 50 people receiving medical care at Jubilee Hospital.
Six patients have lost their lives.
“Diarrhoeal disease is a common and often highly infectious condition that affects the stomach and intestines. It is a leading cause of child mortality and morbidity in the world, and mostly spreads by contact with an infected person or through contaminated food and drinking water sources. Individuals generally become ill 12 to 48 hours after exposure. Some of the common symptoms include diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and low-grade fever,” health spokesperson Foster Mohale explained.
The department also confirmed that the cumulative number of positive cholera cases has increased to 22, following the detection of four more cases in Gauteng and seven cases in Vredefort and Parys in the Free State.
“Members of the public are urged to avoid known or suspected contaminated food, water and surfaces, and wash hands thoroughly with soap before handling food or after using the bathroom to prevent possible infection,” said Mohale.
The public is urged not to drink water from unsafe sources such as rivers, dams and streams unless boiled or disinfected first.
The provincial and district outbreak response teams in both Gauteng and Free State have been dispatched to the affected communities to further investigate the source of the outbreaks.