Urgent warning about deadly disease

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

The Department of Health has sent out an urgent public health warning after three people died as a result of an unknown and highly infectious disease.

A Zambian man, accompanied by a paramedic, was admitted to the Morningside Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg on September 12 with flu-like symptoms. He died two days later.

The paramedic, who had shown the same symptoms, fell ill on September 27 and died two days later.

Yesterday the nurse who had attended to them succumbed and died at the Sir Albert Robinson Hospital on the West Rand.

She had taken ill on October 1.

None of the deceased have so far been named.

Health Department spokesman Fidel Hadebe said it was not known what caused the disease and how it was transmitted.

"Measures are in place to follow up all the people the deceased came into contact with," he said.

"Healthcare workers and relatives are being monitored for raised temperatures and flu-like symptoms for 21 days.

Public healthcare facilities are on high alert to handle any cases related to this situation.

"All the blood samples tested for viral hemorrhagic fever and other formidable infectious diseases are negative.

"But people who recently travelled to Zambia are urgently requested to go to the nearest clinic or hospital for a medical examination."

Hadebe said they had been in touch with their Zambian counterparts to notify them of the deaths.

Though no one had been quarantined yet, doctors were checking on clinic staff and relatives every few days.