Paidamoyo Chipunza Health Reporter
The sporadic cases of typhoid recorded in Harare’s Hopley, Glen Norah and Hatfield last week have spread to Budiriro, raising fears of an outbreak, amid scarce resources to control the bacterial infection.
The single case recorded in Budiriro brought to six the number of confirmed cases so far, with more suspected cases emerging in Hopley.
City Health director Dr Prosper Chonzi said last Friday that considering the water and sanitation situation in most suburbs and the scarce resources, chances of a major outbreak were high, especially in areas such as Hopley where the majority of the households fetch water from unprotected water sources.
The water sources are also less than two metres apart from pit latrines – a situation that is likely to result in contamination of the water source through seepage.
“My fear is that we may have one big outbreak in the whole of Harare and with the water and sanitation situation and scarce resources we could be heading for a disaster,” said Dr Chonzi.
Dr Chonzi appealed for antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and water treatment tablets to curb the further spreading of the bacteria.
“Our health promotion teams are mitigating the problem with community campaigns where they are sensitising residents on typhoid in the affected areas and giving them information on basic hygienic practices,” he said.
“The teams are also supplying residents with water treatment tablets to treat their water at point of use.”
Dr Chonzi urged residents to continue treating water for domestic use, wash hands before and after using the toilets and before handling food, stop buying meat and vegetables from the streets and eat food while it is still hot to prevent typhoid infection.
One of the community health workers interviewed during the city’s campaigns in Hopley, Mrs Granny Kabaya, said she had referred a family of four to the clinic during her home visits.
“I have visited more than 20 households and most of them are well except one family where a mother and her three children who are all exhibiting signs and symptoms of typhoid,” she said.
“I have since advised the family to visit the clinic.”
Another health worker in the same area, Mrs Esther Ndaveni, said she also identified and referred two cases of suspected typhoid to the clinic.
The health workers said most of the affected households assumed it was common diarrhoea and took sugar and salt solutions instead of seeking treatment.
“A majority of them do not know that it is actually a typhoid bacteria,” said Mrs Ndaveni. “They think that it is just common diarrhoea so they are taking sugar and salt solution.”