SA on alert for typhoid fever

Typhoid fever sounds like something from the history books, but it still plagues many developing countries, particularly India. Now there’s an outbreak in SA: news emerged over the weekend of four cluster outbreaks in parts of the North West and Western Cape. But you really don’t have to panic despite those alarming WhatsApp messages you’ve probably been receiving. 🤕 This isn’t our first rodeo with the nasty bacterial disease, which has become far less of a threat in the last century because of improved sanitation and the use of antibiotics. A 2005 outbreak in Mpumalanga exceeded 2500 cases. SA’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases said that in 2020 and 2021, there were cases of the disease in eight of our nine provinces, and that the current cases were apparently minor compared to outbreaks in other sub-Saharan countries over the years. 

Experts say that contaminated municipal water did not cause the latest outbreak as some have suggested. Instead, it comes down to “poor sanitation and poor distribution of clean water, more so to poor communities”, City Press reported, adding that we need to repair deteriorating water sanitation infrastructure.⚒️ In related news, a child from Kariega in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality died earlier after reportedly drinking tap water containing E.coli, another bacteria that can be found in contaminated water or food. The area’s mayor said low dam levels were affecting the quality of water, which residents say is brown. Investigations are underway to find the root of the issue. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 24 February 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.