SA on high alert following Zimbabwe typhoid outbreak

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South Africa remains on high alert following the recent outbreak of highly infectious typhoid in neighbouring Zimbabwe, reports News24. But the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) says this is only a precautionary measure because the chance of an outbreak in our country is slim.

Kerrigan McCarthy, head of outbreak response at the NICD, says that while an outbreak is not anticipated, “the NICD co-ordinates a surveillance network that will pick up each case of typhoid and ensure that appropriate investigations are done to prevent an outbreak.

“It has also issued an awareness message to healthcare practitioners and the public regarding signs of typhoid symptoms – including fever, headache, chills and sweats, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhoea – and the need to go to a healthcare facility as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.

“In addition, a typhoid preparedness notification has been distributed to clinics and healthcare facilities reminding clinicians about signs, symptoms, diagnostic procedures and public health steps necessary to following detection of cases.”

The report says typhoid is endemic to southern Africa, with seasonal increases in January and February. The disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi spreads by faeco-oral contamination, direct contact or through swallowing food or water contaminated with the bacteria.

In Zimbabwe, the typhoid outbreak was apparently caused by the contamination of water supplies, said McCarthy.

News24 report

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