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Typhoid: CDC to the rescue

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A UNITED States health agency has deployed its experts in laboratory and epidemiological surveillance support to Zimbabwe to assist government’s plan to contain the outbreak of typhoid, an official has said.

BY STAFF REPORTER

Centre for Diseases Control (CDC)-Zimbabwe chapter head, Shirish Balachandra told a local radio station that his organisation had dispatched a team to help government fight typhoid.

“For our part, we were asked to provide two things — the first is epidemiologic surveillance support and the second is laboratory support.

“To this end, we have brought in two additional staff members from our headquarters in Atlanta. Together with our colleagues based here in Zimbabwe, they are helping in tracing patterns of transmission and making sure we quickly identify antibiotic resistance, so we can switch to the right treatment,” Balachandra said.

The CDC-Zimbabwe official hailed local efforts to co-ordinate local and international resources in responding to the outbreak.

“The (Health and Child Care) ministry has taken a very strong position and responded appropriately in bringing all of us together to co-ordinate treatment, surveillance and prevention initiatives at all levels. There are efforts to make sure that water sources and food sources stay clean,” Balachandra said.

“Our job is to look at the situation, anticipate the worst-case scenario, and implement a strategy to avoid it.”

According to CDC-Zimbabwe, typhoid fever is an infection that can be treated that is normally transmitted from human to human by the Salmonella typhi bacteria.

It is found worldwide, but is more prevalent in communities with poor sanitation, or lack of access to clean food and water.

Generally, people are exposed to the typhoid bacterium through food or water that has been contaminated by faecal material.

Recent data shows that in 2016, Zimbabwe had over 2 200 suspected cases of typhoid fever with nine deaths.

The recent reported outbreak has resulted in two deaths.

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