Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Visitors to western parts of Harare and parts of Murehwa should take preventive measures to avoid contracting typhoid as the bacteria continues to spread throughout the country with 402 suspected cases recorded so far, Government has warned.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care also warned residents from the affected suburbs, particularly those who handle food and those taking care of the sick to observe strict hygiene practices as Government battles to contain the outbreak.
Latest statistics from the national command centre shows that a total of 89 suspected cases and seven confirmed were recorded in one week alone.
These cases were recorded from Harare (68), Harare Hospitals (10) and Murehwa (16). Sporadic cases were also recorded from Umguza in Matabeleland North Province and Masvingo District, in Masvingo Province. In Harare, typhoid which broke out in Hopley and Glen Norah has since spread to Budiriro, Glen View, Kuwadzana, Dzivarasekwa, Mabvuku and Stoneridge suburbs.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, one person has died while 402 others were treated and discharged. Thirty-eight cases have so far tested positive of typhoid.
“This communication is therefore advising people living in affected areas or visitors to these areas to take typhoid prevention measures, which include being wary of the food and water one eats and drinks, and the need to observe strict personal hygiene,” warned the ministry.
The ministry said to avoid contracting typhoid, people should wash fruits and vegetables with safe running water before eating them. It said people should also cook food thoroughly and eat it whilst hot or reheat it thoroughly before eating.
“The public should avoid foods and beverages from street vendors. It is difficult for food to be kept clean on the street and many travellers get sick from eating food from such places,” warns the ministry.
In its warning, the ministry also emphasised the need to treat all drinking water at point of use by boiling it for one minute or use water treatment tablets. Basic hygiene practices such as hand washing with soap and running water before and after handling food and after visiting the toilet, handling soiled diapers or bed linen should also be adhered to.
“People who get sick from typhoid fever should seek treatment early to avoid complications, deaths and also to limit the spread of the disease,” further reads the alert statement.
Typhoid fever is spread by food and water, contaminated by faeces and urine of patients and carriers of typhoid disease.
Vegetables contaminated with sewage water and eaten raw are also a source of infection. Bad personal and environmental hygiene compound the spread of the disease.
Typhoid is a serious public health problem, which is caused by a bacteria called salmonella typhi. Its symptoms usually develop one to three weeks after exposure to the disease and may be mild or severe.
These include high fever, malaise, headache, rose spots on the chest, enlarged spleen and liver, constipation or diarrhoea.