Deadly cholera claims first victim since it was declared outbreak

Cholera, a bacterial disease causing severe diarrhoea and dehydration and usually spread in water, has claimed its first victim since it was declared an outbreak early in February.

The Department of Health confirmed on Thursday that the victim was a resident of Emandleni informal settlement near Wattville, Benoni on the east of Johannesburg.

Foster Mohale, spokesperson for the department, said the 24-year-old man had no known history of travel. He died on Sunday.

“The patient presented with profuse watery diarrhoea and was admitted at Tambo Memorial Hospital [in Boksburg]. His results confirmed a positive status, and sadly he passed away a few days later,” said Mohale.

A person who was in contact with the deceased is still in the hospital and further investigations are being conducted.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Thursday that the number of laboratory confirmed cases has since risen to five.

The first two cases of cholera were detected from Malawian sisters who had travelled from Johannesburg to their native country for a burial. The siblings started developing symptoms upon their return to South Africa on January 30.

The symptoms of cholera, which can also spread indirectly through consuming contaminated food, include diarrhoea, dehydration, vomiting and body weakness.

The department has urged members of the public to always practise hand hygiene to prevent possible transmission.

“All people who experience cholera-like symptoms, with or without local or international travel history, are encouraged to immediately visit their nearest health facility for screening and testing to ensure early detection and successful treatment if they test positive,” added Mohale.

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