HomeLocal NewsTyphoid fear grips city

Typhoid fear grips city


Cases of typhoid have risen in parts of Harare’s high density areas as it emerged residents are no longer shaking hands for fear of contracting the disease.

Typhoid is a bacterial disease transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated by an infected person. Shaking hands is also widely believed to be another way the disease can be transmitted.

Harare City Council has recorded nearly 800 typhoid cases since the outbreak.

Council’s director of health services Prosper Chonzi yesterday said: “We are busy tracking patients who were treated at other health centres to establish their contacts and also test them for typhoid. The situation is serious and we now want partners to come and help us out.”

In Kuwadzana, Budiriro, and Glen View, word of mouth is now enough and gone are the good old days of shaking hands the African way.

“We cannot take the risk my friend, times have changed,” said one Kuwadzana resident.

When NewsDay visited Kuwadzana yesterday, there were 15 people at a makeshift tent shelter erected at the local polyclinic specifically for typhoid patients.

A healthcare instructor manned the entrance to the improvised clinic, educating visitors and incoming patients of the necessary procedures before they entered.

Another huge tent was congested with patients sitting on benches, nurses ran around with thermometers and cups of sugar and salt solution for patients to drink before any treatment began.

“I came this morning because yesterday, I had a running stomach and I felt weak. I could not eat anything,” complained Peter Kasi, a Kuwadzana resident.

“The problem we are having here is that nurses are taking long to give us medication and this stomach pain started after we ate mangoes and other fruits at the market.”

The sister-in-charge (who refused to be named) said health experts established the latest outbreak was caused by contaminated foodstuffs sold by street vendors in open markets. Some samples of meat and fish tested positive for the typhoid bacterium, she said.

Ironically, a street vendor pushing her cart was camped at the entrance of the clinic selling bananas and mangoes to patients waiting for treatment or leaving the clinic.

“I sell fruits and vegetables, but I am aware of this outbreak of typhoid and there is nothing I can do because this is my work,” said Maud Maguti, a street vendor.

“Look, we use this water to wash the fruits and we normally advise our customers to take home their fruits and wash them before they eat them. The water we use here is not from the borehole, it is clean water that Fanuel (her son) has just brought for me.”

Poor hygiene and sanitation have caused disease outbreaks in Zimbabwe. With the outbreak of the deadly cholera which claimed over 4 000 lives four years ago still fresh in the minds of many, fears of a similar epidemic are rising.

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