HARARE – The number of cholera cases in Chegutu has risen to 73 from 18 recorded on January 19, this year.
A recent visit by the Daily News to the town last Friday, led by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, revealed that health officials have escalated intervention efforts, with several organisations working day and night to contain the outbreak.
Chegutu district administrator Tariro Tomu said: “The number of suspected cholera cases is now 73, one is admitted while four died.”
“The situation is now under control. However, we still appeal to well-wishers to continue assisting the Chegutu community in fighting cholera,” he said, adding “the real source of cholera in Chegutu is not yet established. Water wells here were tested and it was found out that they were contaminated but not with cholera germs”.
On January 19, the number of suspected cholera cases was 18 and the first case was that of an 80-year-old woman who died.
It was reported that three men subsequently died after getting in contact with the woman’s body while preparing it for burial.
MP for Chegutu West Dexter Nduna told the Daily News recently: “So far one person has died while new cases have been recorded. The victims are currently admitted at Chegutu General Hospital.”
He said efforts were underway to contain the epidemic, with stakeholders in the Health ministry converging in the Mashonaland West town to map the way forward.
“Players in the health sector, including from the United Nations Children’s Fund, Red Cross as well as government departments are here and a camp has been set up to fight the plague. We have agreed to meet twice a day until the crisis ends,” Nduna said.
The lawmakers said investigations have established that the outbreak was due to the prevailing shortage of portable water in the town, which forced some residents to drill a hole into the main water pipeline, resulting in sewer from a bust pipe flowing into it.
He said: “The major reason for the outbreak has been scarcity of piped municipal water and dilapidated sewer pipes. Sewer has been trickling into the main water pipeline which was vandalised by some residents. Burst sewer pipes then discharged effluent into the water system which had been perforated by residents seeking potable water”.
He added that unless the water situation was resolved, such outbreaks would continue to happen.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium vibrio cholerae.