South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, announced on Thursday, the first death linked to the recent cases of cholera detected in South Africa, as the number of laboratory-confirmed cases rises to five.
Earlier this month the department had announced three cases of cholera identified in South Africa. The first cases were reported at the end of January when sisters travelling from Malawi contracted it.
The department said the deceased man was the country’s fifth case. He has been identified as a 24-year-old male who lived in Emandleni Wattville, Ekurhuleni, and had no travel history.
“The patient presented with profuse watery diarrhoea and was admitted at Tambo Memorial Hospital. His results confirmed positive status and sadly, he passed away a few days later,” Phaahla said.
One of his contacts is still in hospital and further investigation is being conducted.
The body of the deceased, according to the department, will be transported to KwaZulu-Natal for burial and health officials will advise the bereaved family and undertakers of the safe burial precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, the fourth case is a 28-year-old male who lives in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, with no local or international travel history.
“The patient presented himself at the Edenvale Hospital Emergency Centre with a four-day history of diarrhoea, vomiting and body weakness.”
A specimen, according to the department, was collected for testing and the patient was not admitted to the hospital. He was managed as an outpatient, given treatment to take home and requested to return for his results, which came back positive.
The department said the outbreak response team conducted a case investigation and visited the patient’s residence and workplace the following day.
Cholera mainly spreads through contaminated or polluted water.
According to the department, people can be infected directly through drinking contaminated water, or indirectly through eating contaminated food.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, dehydration, vomiting and body weakness.
Members of the public are reminded to maintain hand hygiene to prevent possible transmission.
“All people who experience cholera-like symptoms, with or without local or international travel history, are encouraged immediately visit their nearest health facility for screening and testing to ensure early detection and successful treatment, if test positive.”