Nine cholera cases, leading to one death, have been reported in Mpumalanga, the provincial health department said on Thursday.
Department spokesman Mpho Gabashane said the areas that had been confirmed to have cholera cases were the Dr JS Moroka, Thaba Choeu and Bushbuckridge municipalities.
There had also been an increase in the number of daily diarrhoea cases in the Mbombela sub-district (Kabokweni), and more diarrheal admissions had been reported at Themba hospital from the January 13.
"These particular cases in Mbombela are diarrhoea not cholera, however intensive monitoring is being carried out and samples have been sent to laboratory for testing for early detection of cholera," he said.
Zimbabwean woman died
Gabashane said the disease had so far claimed the life of one Zimbabwean woman who was living in the province.
The woman died on January 5 but the department waited for the results of a cholera test first before concluding that she had died of the disease.
"We have the results now and the woman had died of cholera," said Gabashane.
The National Health Laboratory (NHLS) confirmed the cholera case on January 9 at the Mmametlhake hospital. He said the woman and her husband had been living in Pankop village. The man tested negative for cholera.
On Wednesday, four men with severe diarrhoea and vomiting were reported at Pankop clinic. The men were transferred to Johannesburg hospital.
Gabashane said eight stool samples which had been sent to the NHLS laboratory at Rob Ferreira hospital had tested positive for cholera.
The samples were from patients at the Hayzyview Town clinic, the Thokozane clinic; Jim Brown clinic and the Matikwane, Mapulaneng and Lydenburg hospitals.
Rumours of people dying
"We have received allegations that people have died in the area as a result of diarrhoea and based on these allegations we have undertaken to investigate all people, even those presenting with diarrhoea."
Two specialist doctors from the National Institute of Communicable Disease and the World Health Organization would be visiting the Bushbuckridge area from Thursday to offer technical support. The department was also investigating all positive cholera cases.
"Case investigations will also be done on all people who it is alleged died of diarrhoea in the area."
Gabashane said all facilities had also been instructed to map out all diarrhoea cases presenting at health facilities and the NHLS had been requested to speedily test samples.
Efforts to educate communities
Meanwhile the department was providing health education, conducting house-to-house visits in all affected areas, providing health related messages through a loud hailer in the affected communities and training community-based workers to assist with house-to-house health education. It was also conducting health education at schools, churches, community meetings, funerals, and other gatherings.
"Community leaders are also involved and they support the department by advocating for community support. They also participate in the house-to-house interventions."
Meanwhile, the Limpopo province has recorded nearly 2 000 cholera cases and nine deaths while the number of suspected cases in Gauteng stand at 162 with three deaths.
The Western Cape has had seven confirmed cases and KwaZulu-Natal six cases, with no deaths in either province.
More than 2000 people have died of cholera in Zimbabwe, the World Health Organization reported on Wednesday. – (Sapa)
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