Estella Naicker
3 minute read
5 Apr 2019
9:11 am

Over 500 people hospitalised after drinking suspected contaminated water in KZN

Estella Naicker

Cholera was not present in the water samples that were taken, but Vryheid residents have been advised to boil water and wash all food.

MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo visited the hospital and interacted with patients who were admitted after the outbreak.

A total of 535 people were admitted to Vryheid Hospital for vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal cramps since March 22, according to the KZN department of health.

The latest patient was admitted on Thursday, and there were five people admitted on Wednesday, Vryheid Herald reports.

Health MEC Sbongiseno Dhlomo visited the hospital on Thursday to interact with patients and district health officials, who briefed him on what intervention has been taken to improve the situation.

ALSO READ: Vryheid mayor warns residents not to drink tap water

Dr Dhlomo said: “The lab results of both stools of the patients and the water samples are showing no sign of vibrio cholera, typhoid, or any other known pathogens that cause severe diarrhoea. We have advised the community that they must boil water, even if it comes from the tap. We are also aware that the municipality has increased the chlorine content at the reservoirs.

“The laboratory will continue to look for any other pathogens that might be causing this irritant diarrhoea. But since these interventions that we’ve put in place, we have been noticing a decreasing number of admissions of patients with abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting.”

Most of the people who were admitted at Vryheid Hospital were referred from Bhekuzulu Clinic and Mason Clinic, according to Dr Dhlomo.

He went on to commend the hospital for its excellent intervention, adding that patients were being discharged in a stable state within three days of being admitted.

“There’s been no single death from the diarrhoea outbreak,” confirmed Dr Dhlomo, dispelling allegations from the community that children had died.

Water manager Nathi Mbongwa said the municipality would be releasing an official statement regarding the results of the water tests, but said that he had received conclusive confirmation that cholera was not present in the water samples that were taken.

Responding to a social media post that the water supply to town was cut off on Wednesday in order to take more samples, Mbongwa clarified that the water disruption was a result of one the pumps at the dam breaking down.

Cllr Alta de Kock advised that the pump has now been repaired, and that water supply would return as soon as the reservoir is filled.

While lab tests are being conducted to detect possible pathogens in the water, residents are urged to continue to abide by the prescribed safety protocols:

  • Use only bottled water, or water that has been disinfected with 1 teaspoon or 5ml of bleach into 20 to 25 litres of water, mix well, and wait for at least 30 minutes before consumption
  • Then boil the water at least for a minute (let it bubble) to make it clean and safe
  • Wash all raw food with clean, treated or boiled water
  • Wash your hands after visiting the toilet, and before handling or eating food
  • Wash food utensils in clean, treated, or boiled water
  • Protect food from fly contamination
  • Do not allow children to play in dirty pools, rivulets or stormwater outlets
  • Do not contaminate rivers or leave sewage where it can be washed into a river by rain

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