South Africa’s medical experts call for caution over Typhoid fever outbreak

A medical expert at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has called on communities to be vigilant following an outbreak of enteric fever in the North West and Western Cape.
Dr Juno Thomas says the largest outbreak was in 2005 in Delmas, Mpumalanga, when more than 400 people were infected with the disease, which is also called Typhoid fever.
The NICD has called on the public to ensure they follow proper hygiene practices by washing their hands regularly, sanitise properly and drink clean boiled water.
This was after life-threatening bacteria was detected. The NICD has identified four cluster outbreaks of Typhoid; one in the North West and three in the Western Cape.
“South Africa is endemic for Enteric fever which is also called Typhoid fever. This means cases are reported around the country every year. During 2020 and 2021 the total number of cases reported across the country did not differ from the years before, but we did notice that there was a small increase in the Western Cape and in the North West province,” says Dr Juno Thomas, NICD.
According to the North West Health Department, 19 cases of enteric fever has been recorded, mainly around Klerksdorp and surrounding areas.

Departmental Spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethwane says people who mine illegally in the area were found to be the worst affected.
“Our MEC Madoda Sambatha has made this pronouncement that the province has enteric fever cases. When we look back since November 2020, we are now standing at 19 cases. One case was reported at Welmark Park Private Hospital and the 18 others were reported at Klerksdorp Hospital – all these cases in Matlosana and we realise it is because of the infections that come out of the illegal mining.”
One of the illegal miners, commonly known as Zama Zamas, spoke to SABC News on condition that he remains anonymous. He confirmed the health department’s findings saying there is no freshwater underground and they are sometimes forced to drink water from sewage pipes on the surface.
Three cluster outbreaks were confirmed in the Western Cape with 14 cases reported in the City of Cape Town, 11 in the Cape Winelands and 12 in the Garden Route.

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