Chegutu cholera cases up
Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau—
THE number of suspected cholera cases has risen to 22 in Chegutu forcing Government and its partners to move in to manage the outbreak by setting up a treatment camp in the town. Four people have so far died of cholera in Chegutu. At least nine people are currently admitted and in isolation at Chegutu District Hospital. Following reports of the outbreak on Friday, four more cases were detected yesterday.
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The first case was that of an 80-year-old woman who died on January 8. Three male relatives subsequently died after contact with the women’s body while performing rituals to wash out her intestines without protection. Mashonaland West provincial medical director Dr Wenceslaus Nyamayaro confirmed the development saying several non-governmental organisations had moved into Chegutu to help contain the situation.
“The number of presented cases has risen to 22 from 18 on Friday and we are working with several of our partners who have moved in to help manage the situation,” said Dr Nyamayaro.
“Deaths remain at four and we hope to contain the outbreak in the shortest possible time.” The disease has so far claimed more than 67 lives in Zambia but investigations show that neither of the victims nor the patients had recently travelled to the neighbouring country. Authorities have, however, identified poor water supplies in the town as the cause of the outbreak.
Some areas are going for three to four days without water. Residents have resorted to vandalising pipes to access treated water. The provincial Civil Protection Unit yesterday visited the town to assess preparedness to contain the outbreak. Chegutu West House of Assembly member Dexter Nduna said efforts should be made to ensure that the disease did not spread to other parts of the country.
“We are hoping that with the collective effort that is there now Government and other stakeholders we can stop the scourge in Chegutu and prevent cholera from spreading to other areas,” said Cde Nduna. Cooperating partners, including Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross Zimbabwe, Unicef and others from Germany are already on the ground helping to manage the outbreak.
However, health officials say control of the outbreak will be difficult without resolving the issue of reliable water supplies. Chegutu suffered its worst cholera outbreak in 2009 when about 200 cases were recorded leading to the death of 30 people. The outbreak comes when Government has stepped up cholera control in Kariba and Chirundu border towns in order to forestall transmissions from travellers to Zambia.
At least 3 000 people have been treated for cholera in Zambia. Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa recently said Zimbabwe was on high alert and had reactivated its emergency response teams to deal with cases that might arise. He said Government had also stepped up awareness campaigns, particularly on buses leaving Harare for Zambia and Malawi. Malawi has recorded cases of cholera in Lilongwe.