First cholera death in SA confirmed as more cases detected

The death was recorded in Benoni, Ekurhuleni

The department had traced 18 people who were in contact with the infected sisters.
The department had traced 18 people who were in contact with the infected sisters.
Image: 123RF/ tashatuvango

The first cholera death in South Africa has been recorded as the number of confirmed cases has risen to five, the national health department announced on Thursday.

A 24-year-old man from the Emandleni informal settlement in Wattville, Benoni, died from the illness. He had no travel history.

Instead, he presented with profuse watery diarrhoea and was admitted to Tambo Memorial Hospital, said spokesperson Foster Mohale.

“His results confirmed positive status and sadly he passed away a few days later,” Mohale said.

A person he was in contact with is still in hospital and an investigation is being conducted.

His body will be transported to KwaZulu-Natal for burial.

“Health officials will advise the bereaved family and undertakers of the safe burial precautions to prevent the spread of the disease,” said Mohale.

The death follows the announcement of the first three cases in the country a few weeks ago.

The first two confirmed cases were two sisters who had travelled to Johannesburg from Malawi and presented symptoms on arrival. The third confirmed case was one of the sister’s husbands, who also showed symptoms days later.

The fourth case, a 28-year-old man from Alexandra, also had no local or international travel history, Mohale said.

“The [fourth] patient presented himself at the Edenvale Hospital Emergency Centre with a four-day history of diarrhoea, vomiting and body weakness.”

Cholera is mainly spread through contaminated or polluted water and can cause infection through drinking it or eating contaminated food.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, dehydration, vomiting and body weakness.

“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 to immediately visit their nearest health facility for screening and testing to ensure early detection and successful treatment, if they test positive,” said Mohale.

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