Pretoria – Four cases of Typhoid fever have been confirmed in Johannesburg, with one person having died.
The Gauteng Health Department on Sunday said Typhoid fever cases have been identified in Hillbrow, Yeoville, Edenvale and Palm Spring.
Two of the cases were identified at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital where a 27-year-old Malawian woman died over a week ago.
The department said she complained of fever, headache and vomiting and she was tested for Malaria at Hillbrow Community Health Centre (CHC).
Her results were negative and because she was not seriously ill looking, she was discharged and asked to come back if her symptoms persisted.
“Tests for Typhoid fever were not conducted because this disease is not prevalent in the community,” said the department.
The woman returned to Hillbrow CHC on 15 January as she felt sicker and was referred to the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.
“She went to Charlotte Maxeke on 16 January, complaining of a severe fever, headache and joint pains. She died on 17 January. Tests confirmed that she died of the Typhoid fever disease,” said the department.
The patient had travelled to her home country three weeks ago for a holiday and returned to South Africa through Mozambique earlier in the week that she died.
A 16-year-old South African female patient was admitted at the hospital on Tuesday – she had similar symptoms and was immediately diagnosed with Typhoid.
“She is undergoing treatment, she is stable and improving. She has never travelled out of the country or anywhere outside Gauteng,” said the department.
The other two cases were confirmed at the Edenvale District Hospital.
Two Zimbabwean girls, aged 11 and three, were admitted to the Edenvale District Hospital in a period of two weeks. They also had similar symptoms and they were diagnosed with the fever.
The department said they are under treatment, stable and improving.
“It is understood that both children had just returned from Zimbabwe, their home country on Tuesday 12 January 2016, after brief visits there,” said the department.
Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu said the department had activated the Outbreak Response Team to trace and manage these cases and to determine if there is a common source.
“We wish to assure the public that we are on the alert. People must always wash hands,” said MEC Mahlangu.
The Outbreak Response Team had sent environmental health practitioners to the residences of the affected patients to check whether there are other people who might have similar symptoms and have taken samples from all sources of drinking water, to determine the source of this disease.
“The team has also checked on patients at all affected health facilities.”
Typhoid is a highly infectious disease and spread through the ingestion of contaminated food and water. It is common in communities where there is inadequate sanitation.
Poor personal hygiene is also responsible for the rapid spread of the disease. It is particularly important to wash hands before preparing food.
Symptoms includes high fever, headache, joint pains, and abdominal discomfort sometimes with vomiting.
“Health professionals are advised to test such patients for Typhoid and if not possible, they must refer them to institutions that are capable of conducting such tests,” said the department.
The department said it will continue to be on the alert and has advised all health professionals in Gauteng to be vigilant.