South Africa has treated 68 cholera patients since the weekend in a town at the border with Zimbabwe, where the disease has killed dozens of people in recent weeks, a health official said.
"Since Saturday, we have received and treated a total of 68 cholera patients from Zimbabwe," said Phuti Selobi, spokesman for the health department in the town of Musina said. "Sixty-six of them are Zimbabweans while two others are South Africans engaged in cross-border business," Selobi said.
"Only 14 of them are still in the hospital," he added, noting that no one has died of cholera in South Africa.
Musina is a sprawling town near the main border crossing between the countries. Zimbabwe has suffered 73 cholera deaths in the latest outbreak, caused by the breakdown of sanitation in the country.
SA not facing cholera threat
"We have set up a rehydration centre near the border to handle cases and to relieve the hospital. Not all patients need to visit a hospital to get cholera treated," Selobi said. He insisted that South Africa did not face a cholera threat because the two countries do not share a common water source.
Up to 1.4 million people in Zimbabwe are at risk of the water-borne disease, Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday. State media in Zimbabwe said that 36 people have died since Friday in Beitbridge, just across the border from Musina.
Zimbabwe's health system, once among the best in Africa, has collapsed under the weight of the world's highest inflation rate, last estimated at 231 000 000% in July.
Cholera is endemic in parts of rural Zimbabwe, but had been rare in the cities, where most homes have piped water and flush toilets. But after years of economic crisis, the nation's infrastructure is breaking down, leaving many people without access to clean water or proper sanitation. – (Sapa, November 2008)
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