/ 7 November 2007

Diarrhoea spreads to more than 400 Delmas residents

More than 40 cases of diarrhoea were reported in the Nkangala area in Delmas, Mpumalanga, on Wednesday, the provincial health department said.

”We had 44 more patients treated today [Wednesday]. That brings the number to 469 since the outbreak [two weeks ago],” said departmental spokesperson Mpho Gabashane.

”Most cases were reported over the weekend. We have sent more nurses to the area,” added Gabashane. Most of the patients treated at the clinics were toddlers.

The department has not yet identified the cause of the stomach disorder. ”There is still nothing linking water to the diarrhoea. As a precautionary measure, we advise people to boil water before consumption,” he said.

The area was hit by a typhoid outbreak in September 2005 and four people died as a result. However, Gabashane said typhoid cannot be linked to this outbreak as typhoid test results were negative.

He said no deaths have been reported yet.

Last week, some residents feared for their lives, while others believed the situation was under control.

Sibongile Ntuli said the outbreak hit the area three weeks ago but it wasn’t initially ”serious”.

”We only realised it was serious last week when most people became sick. Three of my family members are suffering from it and this morning I heard that four people from the same street had the same problem.”

Ntuli said she believed that the water was infected and as a result her family no longer drank tap water. ”Officials said they tested the water and there was nothing wrong with it, but we don’t believe them. Since last week, we’ve have been buying bottled water.”

Another resident, Ntombi Hlumbane, who was taking her son and niece to a clinic for diarrhoea treatment, said the situation was under control. ”I’m not scared because it’s not the first time this happened in this area. As long as people get treated they will be fine,” she said. — Sapa