South Africa: Gastrointestinal Infection Outbreak Claims Seven Lives
The Gauteng Department of Health has confirmed the death of seven people due to an outbreak of diarrhoeal disease or gastrointestinal infection in Hammanskraal near Pretoria.
The highly infectious condition is spread through contact or contaminated food or water and affects the stomach and intestines.
While not deadly to healthy persons, the infection can cause fatal complications to children, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.
The department said since Monday last week, more than 60 people have been receiving treatment at the Jubilee Hospital with watery diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
“Of all of these patients, 26 had symptoms of both diarrhoea and vomiting, while 16 only had diarrhoea and 10 were vomiting. Most of these patients showed signs on arrival to the [Jubilee Hospital].
“The provincial and district outbreak response teams have been dispatched to Jubilee Hospital and the affected areas to further investigate the source of the gastrointestinal infection. Already, stool specimen has been collected from some of the affected people. The results are expected from the laboratory during the course of the weekend,” the department said.
The department called on citizens to take extra care during this time and to report to hospital if they experience symptoms.
“People are urged to ensure proper hand hygiene which includes thorough washing of hands with water and soap before and after using the bathroom/toilet and preparing or eating food. Make use of only safe or disinfected water for preparing food, beverages and ice in order to prevent possible transmission of the infection.
“The [department] is urging the public to report to their nearest health facilities when they present with mild to severe and water diarrhoea and dehydration symptoms so that they can receive treatment.
“Symptoms may appear within one to three days after being infected and ranges from mild to severe. Symptoms usually last just a day or two, but occasionally, they may last up to 14 days,” the department said.