THE ministry of health and child care (MoHCC) has warned travelers to exercise extreme caution when traveling to Gweru following a Typhoid outbreak which has claimed at least eight lives, HealthTimes has learnt.
By Michael Gwarisa
In a statement, MoHCC said the Typhoid fever which is caused by Salmonella Typhi bacteria, thrives well under dirty environments hence the need for citizens to practice hygiene as well as avoid coming into contact with infected persons as people can transmit the disease as long as the bacteria remains in their body.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care would like to inform the public that Gweru City is currently experiencing an outbreak of Typhoid Fever. The Ministry of Health and Child Care is hereby requesting everyone to be on high alert for Typhoid fever. We encourage you to observe strict personal and community hygiene.
“Travelers are advised to take all necessary precautions to avoid being infected. We will provide regular updates on the typhoid outbreak.”
Typhoid fever remains a serious public health problem throughout the world, with an estimated 16–33 million cases and 500 000 to 600 000 deaths annually. In Zimbabwe typhoid has been reported since 2010 and almost continually as of 2016 in the City of Harare.
“Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease, caused by Salmonella Typhi bacteria. The bacteria is almost exclusively transmitted by food and water contaminated by the faeces and urine of patients and carriers. Polluted water is the most common source of typhoid transmission.
“In addition vegetables fertilized with contaminated soil and eaten raw, contaminated milk and milk products have been shown to be a source of infection.”
The incubation period for typhoid fever (the time interval from infection with the bacteria to onset of symptoms), is 1 to 3 weeks. The symptoms of typhoid fever include high fever, malaise, headache, constipation or diarrhea, rose-colored spots on the chest, and enlarged spleen and liver. These symptoms may set in rapidly and can be severe.
A suspected case of typhoid fever is any person with the above-mentioned symptoms. A confirmed case of typhoid fever is a suspected case confirmed by isolation of Salmonella Typhi from blood, bone marrow, bowel fluid or stool. People can transmit the disease as long as the bacteria remain in their body.
Most people are infectious prior to the onset of symptoms and during the first week of recovery, but 10% of untreated patients will discharge bacteria for up to 3 months. Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics. However, resistance to common antimicrobials is widespread.
Meanwhile, the MoHCC advised members of the public to prevent typhoid fever by washings of hands with soap under safe running water after using the toilet, before eating or cooking to prevent typhoid as well as advising health workers at the nearest health facility immediately if suspecting typhoid fever.
“Avoiding shaking hands at public gatherings particularly during a typhoid outbreak, drinking boiled or treated water, washing fruits or vegetables under safe running water before eating them, always using the toilet. No to open defecation!!”
The ministry also urged citizens to cook food thoroughly and eat whilst it’s still hot to prevent typhoid and other diarrheal diseases, maintaining good personal and community hygiene, avoiding eating or buying food from undesignated places and also called on citizens to seek early treatment for typhoid fever.