More typhoid cases feared
Innocent Ruwende: Senior Reporter
More Harare City residents are at risk of contracting the deadly typhoid following the death of one more person in Mbare at the weekend, bringing to two the number of people who have succumbed to the disease.This comes as the Harare City Council yesterday started laying new water pipes in Mbare in an attempt to supply clean water and contain typhoid outbreak.
The latest death in Mbare comes as fears abound of an upsurge in new cases in the city. City authorities had confirmed seven typhoid cases as of yesterday, up from four reported last week as no solution to the challenge appears to be available.
Council has already moved into Glen View, Budiriro, Mabvuku, Tafara and Hopley, which are potential hotspots to drain and clean the sewage pipes. Ivy Makwara (13) was the first victim of typhoid in Harare after she died on Christmas Day. At least 19 people are now admitted with typhoid symptoms at city clinics.
Harare City Council Health Services director Dr Prosper Chonzi yesterday confirmed the death of a 33-year-old man whose residential address is still unknown.
“The man was confused when he presented himself to our officials at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital (BRIDH). He had a fever and a headache. We still do not know his relatives because no one knew him at the address he provided in Mbare.”
“We expect to have an upsurge in the number of people visiting our institutions as typhoid has a 21-day incubation period. We are urging people to come in early for treatment because if they wait, the disease will become complicated to cure,” he said.
Dr Chonzi said more people were coming in from Mbare and they were being screened with some of them having contracted the disease more than a week ago.
He reiterated the need for residents to improve their personal hygiene by washing their hands after visiting the toilet and to avoid eating unwashed fruits. Handwashing even without soap is critical.
Dr Chonzi said if people were to drink water from unprotected water sources, they should boil it first or use aqua tablets to treat the water so that they get rid of the bacteria that causes typhoid.
Last week Harare City Council Health Services Department confirmed the presence of Salmonella typhi, a life-threatening bacterial infection that causes the disease in some of the samples from Mbare.
At least 2 160 suspected cases were reported countrywide this year with authorities confirming 77 cases and seven deaths as of December 18.
There are also fears that the outbreak that started in 2012 due to poor water, sanitation and hygiene could have claimed more lives that could have gone unreported because the disease is not easily diagnosed.
Typhoid usually occurs when water supplies serving large populations are contaminated by faecal matter. It is then spread by contaminated food and water or close contact with an infected person. The illness can last for several weeks and even months undetected leading to death.