Local cholera cases of greater concern than imported cases: Dr Thomas

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Dr Juno Thomas of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases says the local cholera cases are of much higher concern to the country than those that have an imported link.

She was speaking at a Cholera webinar hosted by the National Department of Health. 15 people have died at Jubilee Hospital in Hammanskraal following a Cholera outbreak in the area.

Dr Thomas is urging doctors to intensify testing for cholera.

“Any acute watery stool must be regarded as suspected cholera. Locally acquired cholera is of higher concern. It indicates there is local transmission. But the indigenous cases that have no link to imported cases are of major concern. It’s very likely there may be other cases that have not been identified,” says Dr Thomas.

South African health experts say physicians at primary health care facilities need to act immediately upon suspicion that patients may be infected with cholera.

The National Department of Health together with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases is hosting a webinar updating the nation on the cholera outbreak in the country.

Cholera Outbreak | Latest update with Health Department:

Experts say informal settlements that have little access to clean water are most at risk of contracting cholera in the country.

Some of the more common symptoms that have been identified include vomiting, diarrhoea and severe dehydration.

As testing continues at laboratories in the country, NICD says, the infection rate is probably much higher than is currently being recorded.

South Africans are being advised to boil water before drinking and avoid using water that is suspected to be contaminated.

Also speaking at the webinar, Nevashan Govender ha said poor border management across the African continent continues to increase South Africa’s risk of imported cholera cases.

Govender says countries in the SADC region are also struggling.

“Cholera is a big, ongoing concern. We have been monitoring it since late last year. Our neighbours in the SADC region are obviously struggling with the management of the outbreak. Cross-border transmission continues to create a threat and risk for SA with imported cases. Now that we have our own local transmission, the risk is still there for importation along with the local transmission.”


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