A staggering 60 people have been hospitalised in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, following an outbreak of diarrhoea.
The KZN Health Department claims 54 people were treated at the Vryheid Hospital from March 22 to March 24.
Allegedly the patients came from Bhekuzulu, Vryheid and Lakeside. A further six more people have since been treated.
But what is the cause of the diarrhoea outbreak?
The department is warning residents in the area to take precautions, only drinking purified water. It explains the Abaqulusi District Municipality is currently under administration, following certain irregularities. This includes the failure to guarantee the provision of water which is safe for human consumption.
Environmental health practitioners have started taking water samples in the affected areas. The province’s communicable diseases control teams have also taken stool samples from the patients. This is to determine the exact cause of the illness.
Furthermore, the health department claims a high-level meeting took place between representatives from the municipality’s water affairs, National Health Laboratory Services and a multi-disciplinary health team.
Adding to the investigations, the KZN Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) has sent in a team of specialists to take a closer look at the situation.
What steps can people follow to ensure they do not fall victim to a diarrhoea outbreak?
The community can take the following steps:
- Don’t allow children to play in dirty pools or stormwater outlets
- Do not contaminate rivers, nor leave sewage in an area where it can wash into a river
- Use proper ablution facilities and wash your hands after use
- Protect your food and home from fly contamination
- Wash your hands before dealing with or eating food
- Wash all your food utensils in clean, treated or boiled water
- Use bottled water, or water which has been disinfected with one teaspoon of chlorine bleach into 20 to 25 litres of water, mix well and wait for at least 30 minutes before consuming. Boiling the water until it bubbles also helps ensures the water is clean to drink.