Bulawayo — At least eight people have died and over 40 others admitted to hospital following a recurring outbreak of typhoid in central Zimbabwe.
The tragedy is out of 1 460 suspected cases confirmed in the Midlands provincial town of Gweru. Over 60 percent of the cases since last week are females.
This outbreak is attributed to burst sewer pipes, which are believed to have contaminated boreholes, the main source of potable water for the community in the city of over 146 000 people.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), a United Nations agency, warned the disease looked likely to spread to other cities with Gweru being the gateway between Harare, the capital city, and Bulawayo, the second largest city.
"Large numbers of people have been affected within a short period. The extent of this outbreak could be much bigger than what is seen," said a local spokesperson of WHO.
Harare has had recurrent outbreaks of typhoid fever in the recent past, the latest being 2017.
"It is, thus, important that this outbreak in Gweru is quickly controlled," the WHO official said.
Officials from government and the Ministry of Health visited the affected communities to assess the crisis. A national task force has been reactivated to coordinate response to the outbreak.
Two treatment centres, one specifically to handle in-patients, have been designated.
Typhoid is contracted by drinking or eating contaminated matter. Zimbabwe's cities are vulnerable considering poor sanitation systems, which have also seen sporadic eruptions of cholera.