Patient’s death sparks cholera concern in Dar

Monday August 17 2015

Minister of Health and Social welfare,Dk.Seif

Minister of Health and Social welfare,Dk.Seif Rashid. 

By Syriacus Buguzi

Dar es Salaam. One person has died and six others are admitted in Dar es Salaam after suffering an attack of severe diarrhoea and vomiting, raising a public health alarm among city health workers.

One woman aged 27, a resident of Tandale suburb, died on Saturday after being rushed to Mwananyamala Hospital with symptoms typical of cholera but authorities at the hospital said yesterday they are carrying out investigations to confirm if the case was indeed that of the deadly water-borne disease.

The patient’s death and the admission of six others displaying the same symptoms have nevertheless sparked off fears of a possible cholera outbreak in the city of over 5 million people.

The Medical Officer in-Charge of Mwananyamala Hospital, Dr Sophinias Ngonyani, told The Citizen yesterday that stool samples of the victims reporting with similar symptoms were being analysed to establish conclusively what the disease is.

‘’We are still investigating the cause of this trend of severe diarrhoea and vomiting because it is unusual,’’ he said in a telephone interview.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that leads to large amounts of excessively watery diarrhoea and vomiting which lasts for a few days. Victims of the disease suffer muscle cramps and severe dehydration and death usually ensues in a few days if there are no immediate medical interventions.

Dr Ngonyani and a team of health officers were planning to establish special isolation units at the hospital for treating the suspected cholera patients as they awaited results of the investigations. Test samples were taken to Temeke Regional Hopsital for the analysis whose results may be known today. ‘’As of now, six people are being treated as suspected cholera patients at this hospital but there is no definitive diagnosis,’’ he said and added that most of the cases that have so far reported to the health facility were from Manzese, Tandale and Kijitonyama suburbs of Kinondoni District.

A laboratory technician at Mwananyamala Hospital who preferred anonymity told The Citizen that the hospital had run out of reagents to test for cholera bacteria and that the samples of the victims had been sent to Temeke Regional Hospital for analysis.

Experts say urban settlements such as Dar es Salaam are at a high risk of infectious diseases such as cholera due to poverty and poor sanitation, underscoring the need for improved infrastructure and planning as the city’s urban population continues to expand.

In a study titled Informal Urban Settlements and Cholera Risk in Dar es Salaam, researchers found out that the cholera incidence was most closely associated with informal housing, increased population density, and the income levels of informal residents.

But cholera cases have not been reported for a long time in the city, according to sources interviewed by The Citizen. The last time there was a cholera outbreak in Dar es Salaam was in 2009.

Studies at that time indicated that out of the 8,753 cases of cholera reported in Dar es Salaam, 42.8 per cent were from Ilala, 32.5 per cent in Kinondoni, and 24.7 per cent in Temeke according to studies.

In a separate incident three days ago, a family of six from Ilala Municipality was admitted to Temeke Regional Hospital after suffering bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea, but according to the Dar es Salaam Regional Medical Officer, Dr Grace Maghembe, the patients were later found to have victims of food poisoning.

‘’They were treated and discharged,’’ said Dr Maghembe who added that she would join the team of health officials in Kinondoni District who were investigating the cause of the current trend of diarrhoea cases in the city suburbs.

She urged residents to ensure they drink boiled water and wash their hands before eating food and after visiting the toilet. The World Health Organisation recommends focusing on prevention, preparedness, and response to combat the spread of cholera. They also stress on the importance of an effective surveillance system.

. One person has died and six others are admitted in Dar es Salaam after suffering an attack of severe diarrhoea and vomiting, raising a public health alarm among city health workers.

One woman aged 27, a resident of Tandale suburb, died on Saturday after being rushed to Mwananyamala Hospital with symptoms typical of cholera but authorities at the hospital said yesterday they are carrying out investigations to confirm if the case was indeed that of the deadly water-borne disease.

The patient’s death and the admission of six others displaying the same symptoms have nevertheless sparked off fears of a possible cholera outbreak in the city of over 5 million people.

The Medical Officer in-Charge of Mwananyamala Hospital, Dr Sophinias Ngonyani, told The Citizen yesterday that stool samples of the victims reporting with similar symptoms were being analysed to establish conclusively what the disease is.

‘’We are still investigating the cause of this trend of severe diarrhoea and vomiting because it is unusual,’’ he said in a telephone interview.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that leads to large amounts of excessively watery diarrhoea and vomiting which lasts for a few days. Victims of the disease suffer muscle cramps and severe dehydration and death usually ensues in a few days if there are no immediate medical interventions.

Dr Ngonyani and a team of health officers were planning to establish special isolation units at the hospital for treating the suspected cholera patients as they awaited results of the investigations. Test samples were taken to Temeke Regional Hopsital for the analysis whose results may be known today. ‘’As of now, six people are being treated as suspected cholera patients at this hospital but there is no definitive diagnosis,’’ he said and added that most of the cases that have so far reported to the health facility were from Manzese, Tandale and Kijitonyama suburbs of Kinondoni District.

A laboratory technician at Mwananyamala Hospital who preferred anonymity told The Citizen that the hospital had run out of reagents to test for cholera bacteria and that the samples of the victims had been sent to Temeke Regional Hospital for analysis.

Experts say urban settlements such as Dar es Salaam are at a high risk of infectious diseases such as cholera due to poverty and poor sanitation, underscoring the need for improved infrastructure and planning as the city’s urban population continues to expand.

In a study titled Informal Urban Settlements and Cholera Risk in Dar es Salaam, researchers found out that the cholera incidence was most closely associated with informal housing, increased population density, and the income levels of informal residents.

But cholera cases have not been reported for a long time in the city, according to sources interviewed by The Citizen. The last time there was a cholera outbreak in Dar es Salaam was in 2009.

Studies at that time indicated that out of the 8,753 cases of cholera reported in Dar es Salaam, 42.8 per cent were from Ilala, 32.5 per cent in Kinondoni, and 24.7 per cent in Temeke according to studies.

In a separate incident three days ago, a family of six from Ilala Municipality was admitted to Temeke Regional Hospital after suffering bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea, but according to the Dar es Salaam Regional Medical Officer, Dr Grace Maghembe, the patients were later found to have victims of food poisoning.

‘’They were treated and discharged,’’ said Dr Maghembe who added that she would join the team of health officials in Kinondoni District who were investigating the cause of the current trend of diarrhoea cases in the city suburbs.

She urged residents to ensure they drink boiled water and wash their hands before eating food and after visiting the toilet. The World Health Organisation recommends focusing on prevention, preparedness, and response to combat the spread of cholera. They also stress on the importance of an effective surveillance system.

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