South Africa

SA on alert as cholera cases surface from Zimbabwe


South African citizens have been urged to be vigilant after two laboratory-confirmed cases of cholera were detected in Limpopo, imported from Zimbabwe.

Two laboratory-confirmed cases

The department of health said the first confirmed case is a 43-year-old male patient in the Musina sub-district in Vhembe District who tested positive. The patient has since been discharged from Musina Hospital.

The second case is a 27-year-old man, also from Zimbabwe, who presented at Hellen Franz Hospital under Capricorn District Municipality with a history of abdominal cramps, watery diarrhoea, and vomiting that started on 11 January.

Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the second patient travelled to Zimbabwe on 9 December 2023, and returned to South Africa on 10 January 2024.

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“His health condition is stable, and he is still in isolation at the hospital. His contacts were identified, and the local outbreak response team has been activated to conduct further investigations and provide health education to contacts,” Mohale said.

SA on high alert

According to the department, South Africa is still on high alert for potential imported cases of cholera from neighbouring Zimbabwe, which is currently battling an outbreak of the disease with over 200 deaths so far.

To reduce the number of imported cholera cases from Zimbabwe, the department has increased health screening at the Beitbridge border post in partnership with the Border Management Authority (BMA).

The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, thanked the suspected cholera patients for being honest with their travel history and for their full cooperation with health officials.

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Dhlomo urged everyone who has previously visited places affected by cholera outbreaks to take similar action in order to preserve lives and stop the disease from spreading to other people.

“We say to all travellers along N1 from Musina and other parts of the country, please avoid using known or suspected contaminated surfaces, especially in public places, and wash hands thoroughly with soap before handling food or after using the bathroom to prevent possible infection,” said Dlhomo.

People with symptoms or travelled to cholera-endemic areas must present themselves

The department also appealed to all people who experience cholera-like symptoms (stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and dehydration and vomiting), with or without travel history to cholera-endemic countries and areas, to present themselves to the nearest health facilities without delay.

“Never drink water from unsafe sources such as rivers, dams, or streams unless boiled or disinfected first,” the department said.

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