Human waste caused Delmas typhoid outbreak

The typhoid outbreak in Delmas, Mpumalanga, was caused by human waste in one of the boreholes, government biologists said on Friday.

Vusi Kubheka, a bacteria specialist, said Salmonella typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid, was found in borehole A4 in the area.

“Salmonella typhoid is carried in human waste. Cases of it were found in just one of the boreholes,” he told reporters in Delmas.

There was a lapse in the management of the water system, Kubheka said.

“We are trying to improve the system so that a repeat does not happen.”

He said low levels of chlorine were picked up in some areas of the water system.

“An agent managed to get through the system. We have managed to boost the level of chlorine in the water.”

The press conference was attended by Mpumalanga local government minister Jabu Mahlangu, two mayors from the Delmas area and officials from the departments of health and water affairs.

Mahlangu said there has been intensive monitoring of the borehole water at source and after treatment as well as at reservoirs and highveld taps since September 9.

He said there are no plans to close any of the boreholes, as all water is now safe to drink.

“The water supply from all boreholes after treatment is fit for drinking,” Mahlangu said.

According to the latest test results, the water supply for Delmas registered no E coli or other coliforms (the group of bacteria to which E coli belongs).

Samples of milk and meat products are being tested by the Mpumalanga department of agriculture, the minister said.

In the next four weeks, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry will inspect all municipalities across the country where there may be concerns relating to the treatment of sewage and water.

“Where necessary corrective action and interventions will be implemented,” Mahlangu said.

So far, four people have died from typhoid in the Delmas area since the outbreak on August 22 and hundreds have fallen ill.

Residents of the Botleng township have held violent protests against what they believe was a poor response by the municipality.—Sapa

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