27 March 2019

South Africa: Diarrhoea Outbreak - Vryheid Residents Warned Against Drinking Municipal Water

Drinking water in the Abaqulusi District Municipality in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal has been red-flagged after 60 people were treated for diarrhoea.

The municipality has been placed under administration for various irregularities, including a failure to provide water which is fit for consumption.

The illness also struck in neighbouring towns this month.

According to a statement issued by the KZN Department of Health, 54 patients were admitted to Vryheid Hospital and treated for diarrhoea. The 54 patients were from Bhekuzulu, Lakeside and Vryheid.

A further six patients from Sasko and Dumbe-Bilanyoni were admitted to hospital on Tuesday for diarrhoea.

"The Abaqulusi municipality has been placed under administration following certain irregularities, including failure to guarantee the provision of water that is safe for human consumption. While environmental health practitioners have begun taking samples of water in the affected areas and elsewhere, the province's Communicable Diseases Control has also taken stool samples from patients in order to determine the exact cause of their illness.

"Following a meeting of emergency response teams on Sunday, another high-level meeting is due to take place on Thursday at Abaqulusi District Municipality, between representatives from the municipality's water affairs, National Health Laboratory Services, as well as a multi-disciplinary health team," read the statement.

The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) sent a team of engineers and infrastructure specialists to take a closer look at the situation.

It said the community should not panic but to rather adhere to the following water and food safety protocol.

Boil the water at least for a minute (let it bubble) to make it clean and safe.

Wash all raw food with clean, treated or boiled water.

Wash your hands before handling or eating food

Wash food utensils in clean, treated or boiled water

Protect food from fly contamination and prevent fly contamination at home

Use proper toilet facilities only and wash hands after use.

Do not allow children to play in dirty pools, rivulets or storm water outlets.

The department urged residents to use bottled water or water that had been disinfected.

Source: News24

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