BULAWAYO councillors have expressed concern over a spike in diarrhoea cases in the city amid revelations by the health department that the source of the disease remains unknown.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A recent report compiled by the council’s health, housing and education committee shows that as many as 473 cases were recorded between July and September.
On Monday alone, four cases were recorded at Nketa council clinic, mayor Solomon Mguni confirmed in an interview yesterday.
“We are still trying to find out what could be the cause of these diarrhoea cases in the city.
“We would also like to believe that probably some of them have to do with residents drinking water from contaminated containers they use to store water in the wake of water shortages,” Mguni said.
The diarrhoea outbreak comes at a time the council has rolled out awareness programmes to avert outbreaks of waterborne diseases against the background of sewage pipe bursts.
“Diarrhoea cases (473) were on the increase in the month of September 2019, exceeding the action threshold for four clinics (EF Watson: 23 cases, Mzilikazi: 16 cases, Pelandaba: 11 cases and Magwegwe: 9 cases); followed by a total of forty-two (42) dog bite cases,” the latest council disease surveillance report read.
“This is a major public health concern. The diarrhoea outbreak was investigated and contact tracing was done, however, the etiological agent remains unknown. All the contacts visited were asymptomatic.
“Since the causative agent is still unknown, the rise in diarrhoea cases from July to September 2019 creates an urgent need for the protective factors against contracting diarrhoea to be strengthened.
“These include improved (water, sanitation and hygiene) activities, contact tracing, active case finding as well as health education and intensified shop inspections. There is also a need for factors associated with contracting diarrhoea in Bulawayo to be assessed so that preventive measures can be established.”
Bulawayo has largely been spared of deaths related to water-borne diseases such as typhoid, cholera and diarrhoea. In 2008 and 2009, the city was also relatively unscathed by the cholera epidemic that swept the country at the time and left thousands dead.