Harare City Council’s director for health services, Dr Prosper Chonzi said there are 17 confirmed cases of typhoid at Matapi Flats in Mbare and authorities have since set up a 24-hour clinic to manage patients.
Here’s what we know so far about the outbreak:
- 12 patients have since been transferred to Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospitals (BRIDH)
- So far the 17 cases have been reported in Mbare only.
- So far there are no deaths
- Harare City Council is considering introducing vaccines which are already being given to council workers working at council’s sewerage treatment works, to high-risk areas.
- It is suspected that the recent typhoid outbreak could have been caused by poor water sanitation and overpopulation.
- The new outbreak happens two months after Government declared Harare typhoid free
Symptoms of Typhoid:
Once signs and symptoms do appear, you’re likely to experience:
- Fever that starts low and increases daily, possibly reaching as high as 104.9 F (40.5 C)
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Dry cough
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Extremely swollen abdomen
- If you don’t receive treatment, you may:
- Lie motionless and exhausted with your eyes half-closed in what’s known as the typhoid state
- Become delirious
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- There are two types of vaccines:
- ViCPS is injected. This is given to children of at least 2 years of age and requires a booster every 2 years.
- Ty21a is taken orally every other day until 4 doses have been received. Children need to be at least 6 years of age to receive this vaccine and then require boosters every five years.
Preventing infecting yourself
- Wash hands frequently in hot, soapy water before eating or preparing food, as well as after using the toilet. Alcohol-based sanitizer can be used in the absence of hot water.
- Avoid drinking contaminated water by ensuring water is bottled or boiled. Carbonated bottled water is safer to drink than uncarbonated.
- Wash teeth using bottled water and avoid swallowing shower water.
- Avoid ordering drinks with ice, unless you know the ice is made form boiled or bottled water. Also avoid flavored ices that could have been made with water that is contaminated.
- Only eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and served steaming hot and avoid foods that have been stored or served at room temperature.
- Only eat raw vegetables if they can be peeled. Items such as lettuce are particularly at risk of contamination and are very difficult to clean properly.
- Avoid food and drink being sold by street vendors as it is difficult to keep food clean in the street.
Preventing infecting others
If a person is recovering from infection with typhoid fever, they can take the following measures to prevent infecting others:
- Follow the doctor’s instructions for taking antibiotics and be sure to complete the whole course.
- Avoid preparing food for others until it is confirmed that you are no longer contagious. It will not be possible to return to a job in the food service industry until tests have confirmed there is no risk of you passing typhoid bacteria.
- Frequently wash hands using hot, soapy water before preparing or eating food, as well as after using the toilet. Hands should be scrubbed thoroughly for at least 30 seconds.