Minister urges caution after cholera cases are confirmed

Minister urges caution after cholera cases are confirmed

The Minister of Health, Dr. Joe Phaahla, has called for more vigilance following the confirmation of two cases of cholera by scientific tests.

The patients are Malawian sisters who traveled from Johannesburg to Malawi last month to attend a funeral. Upon their return to South Africa on January 30th, the siblings began to get the symptoms.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by the bacteria vibrio cholerae. Cholera epidemics typically occur in environments with inadequate sanitation and inadequate access to safe drinking water.

Mild to severe symptoms include watery diarrhea and dehydration. The incubation period (the time between ingestion of cholera-contaminated water or food and the onset of symptoms) ranges from a few hours to five days, with an average of two to three days. Most patients infected with cholera will experience moderate illness or not feel ill.

People can potentially become infected by directly consuming polluted water or indirectly consuming contaminated food.

According to the Health Department, one patient was admitted to the hospital after presenting to a local clinic.

During the investigation and subsequent follow-up with close connections, the sister stated that she, too, contracted diarrhea when returning by bus from Malawi. However, it resolved after a day and she did not seek medical attention.

“On February 4, a close contact [household family member] of one of the cases/patients was hospitalized to the hospital with diarrhoea and dehydration and is being investigated as a probable case. Phaahla stated that laboratory test results are awaited and that careful touch monitoring is happening.

The department is closely monitoring the situation in collaboration with officials in Gauteng, the affected province, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, and the World Health Organization.

All individuals experiencing symptoms such as diarrhoea and dehydration, with or without a history of travel to countries with cholera outbreaks, are asked to report to the nearest health facility for screening and early diagnosis.

Cholera is not an endemic disease in South Africa, according to the department. The last outbreak occurred in 2008/2009 with approximately 12,000 patients.


»Minister urges caution after cholera cases are confirmed«

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