A South African cholera outbreak in 2024 is a serious possibility after a spike in cases so far this year. The Minister of Health, Dr. Joe Phaahla, addressed media on the topic yesterday (Monday 5 February 2024) in Pretoria, reports Business Live.
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According to the minister, three of the 46 suspected cases originated over the border with Zimbabwe. While two more confirmed cases have no travel history to known cholera areas. Last week, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported there were upwards of 20 000 cases of cholera in 12 African countries. These include Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
SOUTH AFRICAN CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN 2024
So, does this portend a South African cholera outbreak in 2024? Potentially, yes. If you’ll recall, exactly one-year ago in February 2023, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed an outbreak of cholera in South Africa. Therefore, this could almost be considered a cyclical epidemic.
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Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with toxigenic bacterium. Furthermore, according to a list of the most searched questions of 2023, ‘How is cholera transmitted?’ was one of the top searches on Google Trends. So, Mzansi is clearly worried about it.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM CHOLERA
Thus, to protect against another South African cholera outbreak in 2024, you need to understand the disease better. As it’s known, cholera bacterium is found in water or foods that have been contaminated by feces. And it can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water.
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Consequently, symptoms of cholera include extreme loss of body fluids. This, in turn, leads to dehydration and shock. If left untreated, death can occur within hours. Therefore, if you suspect you might have cholera, seek medical attention immediately. Fluid replacement to combat dehydration is critical, so drink a rehydration solution if you can.
The latest spate of cholera in South Africa can be attributed to a high number of travelers returning to South African from affected countries, says the NICD. Four confirmed cases were detected in Limpopo, with one other in Gauteng.
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