Western Cape hit by typhoid

Typhoid blood sample. Photo: Thinkstock

A three-year-old who had the disease was discharged from the Edenvale District Hospital in Gauteng on Thursday.

The Western Cape Department of Health said yesterday that two girls, aged nine and 10, had contracted the disease in the Cape Town metropolitan area and a 52-year-old male tested positive for typhoid in the Cape winelands. All three patients are receiving treatment and an investigation is under way to uncover how they contracted the disease.

In Gauteng, a recovered threeyear-old was discharged from hospital and four other patients with typhoid are recovering well, according to Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Steve Mabona. So far this year there have been 10 reported cases of typhoid in the country, seven in Gauteng plus the latest three in the Western Cape. One patient, a 27-year-old Malawian woman who went home three weeks ago on holiday and returned to South Africa through Mozambique, died on January 17.

While the number of cases has increased, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases’ Professor Lucille Blumberg stressed this was not an outbreak. On Sunday, the Gauteng department of health announced it had activated its outbreak response team after four cases of typhoid fever were identified in the Johannesburg area this month.

“We have activated our outbreak response team to trace and manage these cases and to determine if there is a common source. We assure the public we are on the alert,” said Gauteng MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), typhoid fever is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella typhi and transmitted through the ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the faeces or urine of infected people.

“Symptoms usually develop one to three weeks after exposure and may be mild or severe. These include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhoea, rose-coloured spots on the chest and enlarged spleen and liver,” the WHO said.

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