Cholera death toll rises

HARARE - The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Chegutu has risen to five.

This follows the death of one more person yesterday, while nine new cases have been recorded in the farming town – located 112 kilometres southwest of the capital city.

Cumulatively, the number of those infected has risen to 27.

Member of Parliament for Chegutu West Dexter Nduna confirmed the latest developments, saying the highly contagious disease was spreading rapidly.

“So far one person has died while nine new cases have been recorded. The victims are currently admitted at Chegutu General Hospital,” he said.

Nduna said efforts were underway to contain the epidemic, with stakeholders in the Health ministry converging in the Mashonaland West town to map the way forward.

“Players in the health sector, including from the United Nations Children’s Fund, Red Cross as well as government departments are here and a camp has been set up to fight the plague. We have agreed to meet twice a day until the crisis ends,” Nduna said.

The lawmakers said investigations have established that the outbreak was due to the prevailing shortage of portable water in the town, which forced some residents to drill a hole into the main water pipeline, resulting in sewer from a bust pipe flowing into it.

He said: “The major reason for the outbreak has been scarcity of piped municipal water and dilapidated sewer pipes. Sewer has been trickling into the main water pipeline which was vandalised by some residents. Burst sewer pipes then discharged effluent into the water system which had been perforated by residents seeking portable, treated water”.

He added that unless the water situation was resolved, such outbreaks would continue to happen.

Chegutu requires 22 mega litres of water every day but the municipality is only treating 12 mega litres.

Of that, only three mega litres is going into the homes while the rest is lost in transit due to the deplorable state of the pipes.

The current water system was meant to cater for just 4 000 people, but the town now is home to over 25 000 people.

Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa, said he was attending meetings and could therefore not give updates on time.

Chegutu has been a cholera hotbed for a long time.

In 2009, there was a cholera outbreak in the town which claimed 30 lives.

The outbreak, came after the deadliest ever cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe which killed at least 6 000 people in 2008 across the country.

Chegutu was one of the worst affected areas.

Zimbabwe has been on high alert since the outbreak of Cholera in Lusaka and has reactivated its emergency response teams to deal with any case that could arise.

The outbreak in Zambia has affected at least 3 000 people and claimed 70 lives so far.

The epidemic has spread to other southern African countries, especially Namibia and Malawi where it has killed eight and four people respectively.

The outbreak comes when government has stepped up cholera control in Kariba and Chirundu border towns to forestall transmissions from travellers from Zambia.

There does not appear to be any relationship between the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe and that which broke out in Zambia as none of the affected people had travelled to the neighbouring country.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae.

It remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.

Researchers have estimated that every year, there are roughly 1,3 to 4,0 million cases, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera.

Cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea. It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water.


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