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Don’t panic, says Gauteng Health MEC after two sisters test positive for cholera

  • Two confirmed cases of cholera were detected in Johannesburg.
  • Two sisters, who returned from Malawi, tested positive last Wednesday and Friday.
  • Gauteng’s Health MEC assured residents the situation was under control.

Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko called on residents “not to panic” after two confirmed cholera cases were reported in Johannesburg.

Two sisters, who returned from Malawi after attending a funeral, tested positive for cholera last Wednesday and Friday.

In a statement released on Monday afternoon, the Gauteng health department said the sisters left Johannesburg on 15 January to attend a funeral and returned by bus on 30 January.

Both sisters had developed symptoms on their return to Johannesburg, according to department spokesperson Motalatale Modiba.

Modiba said one of the sisters went to a local clinic and was later admitted to hospital on 31 January.

“During the case investigation and follow-up of close contacts, the sister reported that she developed diarrhoea while travelling back from Malawi, but it resolved within a day and she did not seek medical care.

“In a bid to prevent the spread of cholera infections, the department’s outbreak response teams have visited households of the identified cases and those of the 18 contacts, who will be followed up for five days as part of standard protocol,” Modiba said.

He said the department conducted advocacy and health education as part of its social mobilisation drive to the respective households.

READ | Covid-19: So, what do we do with all of our masks now that they are no longer required?

Meanwhile, Nkomo-Ralehoko assured residents the situation was under control.

“Our outbreak response teams have been activated and we have increased surveillance efforts. The Gauteng Department of Health is working closely with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, World Health Organisation and the National Department of Health to closely monitor the cholera cases,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

Nkomo-Ralehoko said it was essential to encourage communities to practice proper hand hygiene.

“Which includes thorough washing of hands with water and soap before and after using the bathroom and also when preparing or eating food.

“We further plead with community members to visit the nearest health facilities in case they present mild to severe and watery diarrhoea and dehydration symptoms.”

According to the World Health Organisation, cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium, Vibrio cholerae.

Modiba said it was mainly spread through contaminated or polluted water.

“People can become infected, directly, through drinking contaminated water or, indirectly, through eating contaminated food.

“The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening. It typically causes acute watery diarrhoea and can affect people of all ages.”

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