Concern at Durban virus outbreak

2013-07-06 00:00

RECENT reports of diarrhoea and cases of people who have been admitted to hospital for suspected diarrhoea in eThekwini are a cause for concern, according to the municipality.

A week-long investigation into the reports by a team of health experts from national, provincial and local health departments, together with the Institute of Communicable Disease, revealed that more than 50% of the samples collected from communities, clinics, households and hospitals came out positive for the rotavirus.

Deputy head of communicable disease services in eThekwini Municipality Dr Ayo Olowolagba yesterday told Weekend Witness that more than 400 cases of diarrhoea were brought to their attention in the past two to three weeks.

He said the investigation was ongoing to ascertain if the outbreak is as a result of rotavirus, a “contagious and highly infectious virus”.

“Of the reported cases, 50% came positive with the virus. Anybody can get infected with the virus and personal and environmental hygiene is the key to prevent infections,” said Olowolagba.

He said the virus is transmitted by the faecal-oral route and it infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis.

A consolidated report is expected to be finalised and will be released to the public as soon as findings are collated, he said.

“Health practitioners in the eThekwini region including in clinics and hospitals will continue to educate the public about hygiene, especially when preparing food, washing of hands, disposal of faecal materials and the whole package of primary health care services.

“We appeal to the community to co-operate and to work with us when doing house visits, as this will be a continuous effort to prevent such outbreaks in the near future,” said Olowolagba.

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