Cholera Cases Now Above 3000… Cholera Strain Drug Resistant

A total of 3067 Cholera cases have been recorded in the in Glenview and Budiriro and some parts of the country amidst indications that the Cholera bacteria strain in Harare is drug resistant to the first line of antibiotics  Ciprofloxacin and Ceftriaxone, a health official has said

By Michael Gwarisa

Reports of a drug resistant bacteria comes at the wake of indications that the country could be in short supply of the second line drug Azithromycin which is also expensive and government is mobilising resources to procure the drug.

Briefing Journalists in the capital this morning, Health and Child Care minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo said the current strain of cholera prevalent in Harare has exhibited some drug resistance tendencies to the first line antibiotics Ciprofloxacin and Ceftriaxone.

“This outbreak is not just Cholera, it also includes Typhoid, so let’s keep it in our minds that we are not looking at Cholera alone. In as far as Cholera is concerned, the Cholera cases have increased, and they are increasing on a daily basis now at 3067 cases and those the 3067 cases are basically emanating from the same epicentre that is Budiriro and Glenview.

“The number of deaths have risen to 21 and the confirmed cases are 45, so we are going up. Like I said before, we should not be seeing any deaths as a result of Cholera or Typhoid. These are diseases which should be managed and avoiding deaths as a result for those diseases. So we have all agreed that we are going to take drastic action to try and combat of the diseases from spreading further,” said Dr Moyo.

He also added that even though Cholera had spread to other parts of the country, greatest risk was still in Harare, in particular Glenview and Budiriro.

“The epicentre which is the origination of these diseases remains Glenview and Budiriro, so where ever we have identify the cases they are being managed. We have our teams out there managing the condition.

“So expect for one death which occurred in Masvingo, most of the deaths have occurred within Harare. We do not want a situation where we will end up with the 2008 Cholera outbreak scenario.”

Meanwhile, a coordination committee which comprises of all government ministries to oversee the Cholera issue has been set aside.

“The coordinating committee identified the problems which are there, all ministries have got tasks at hand, the police are here to assist us because the vendors have been there selling their food, so the ZRP are going to be there ensure the vendors will not sell their food stuffs at night.

“We have a situation where the local government through the city of Harare had a problem of blocked sewers were the main cause of Cholera in the area. So city of Harare have promised that they will look into the water problem.”

Speaking on the drug resistant Cholera strain, minister Moyo said there was a sensitivity partner in drugs that was identified and government had to resort to an even expensive drug.

“We have identified resources that are required and we are very grateful that our partners including the World Health Organisation, Delta and Stanbic have through to help. We are looking at the issue of stopping vending, it is essential that the vending stops in the areas where cholera is.

“On the issue of drug resistance, there was a sensitivity pattern where we saw that there was reistsnce to some of the drugs which are commonly used and we ended using a particular drug which is more expensive. However bear in mind that the main treatment of Cholera is the use of Intra-venal (IV) fluids, so we are covered in that aspect,” said Dr Moyo.

Meanwhile, International organisation MSF (Doctors without Borders) established a Cholera Treatment Centre at the Glenview Polyclinic. The centre assessed patients, observed and gave IV fluids to milder cases. The severe cases are referred to Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Microbiological tests of the water from Harare have recovered both Vibrio Cholerae and Salmonella Typhithe bacteria that causes Typhoid fever. This complicates things for medical personnel as they now need to do blood tests in addition to stool tests.

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