/ 3 May 2005

Brain infection breaks out in Eastern Cape

Emergency aid is on the way to a village in the Eastern Cape where an outbreak of a tapeworm-related sickness has seen more than 20 children hospitalised.

Dozens more were awaiting immunisation on Tuesday from neurocystercercosis, a parasitic brain infection that results from tapeworms.

”We are busy investigating,” said Sizwe Kupelo, spokesperson for the ministry of health in the Eastern Cape, while boarding a helicopter heading towards Coza village. ”We will have more answers this afternoon.”

People infected by neurocystercercosis suffer seizures, headaches and fevers, he said.

At least three helicopters and numerous bakkies were reported to be delivering urgent vaccines to the community, located near Libode. Already, 21 children have been hospitalised in Libode and Mthatha.

After delivering vaccines to Coza village, the health ministry plans to supply additional vaccines to neighbouring villages to prevent further outbreaks.

Neurocystercercosis is common in southern regions of Africa, as well as Asia, where hygienic conditions are poor. — Sapa