26 January 2013

Tanzania: Nine Die of Cholera in Rukwa

Sumbawanga — NINE people have died from cholera while 300 others are receiving treatment after an outbreak that hit several fishing camps and a village along the Lake Rukwa Basin in Sumbawanga District, since November last year.

The epidemic is believed to have erupted after villagers served themselves with contaminated food and water. Camps for attending to victims have been set up at Nkwiro, Kalumbaleza, Nankanga and Ilemba Uze.

Sumbawanga District Medical Officer (DMO), Dr Thomas Rutayazibwa said the authority has imposed a quarantine, banning any gatherings including open market activities and local brew pubs. Food vendors famous known as 'Mama Ntilie' have also been ordered to wind up their business.

"We are appealing to everyone to take preventive measures. It's advised that people abide by the law in order to bring the disease under control," he said. Cholera is an infection in the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Its main symptoms are watery diarrhoea and vomiting.

Transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated with faeces of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms. Dr Rutayazibwa warned that some main water sources including Nkwilo and Kalumbaleza rivers have been contaminated, saying water is no longer safe for human consumption as people wash linen and take bath in the rivers.

Reacting to the cholera situation, a cross section of residents in the affected areas told the 'Daily News on Saturday' that local authorities in the fishing communities have failed in their duties as the disease was a result of poor sanitation. Johnson Sisalamwe from Nankanga fishing community said there were no latrines in the area and people relieve themselves in the nearby bushes.

"In such a poor sanitation environment, it's easy to contract communicable diseases. We hope that God will protect us and things will improve," Sisalamwe said. Similar sentiments were expressed by fishermen in Nkwiro, Nankanga and Ilemba fishing camps.

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