South Africa: Travellers urged to be vigilant following detection of cholera in Limpopo

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has urged citizens to be vigilant and maintain personal hygiene as the country has recorded two laboratory-confirmed cases of cholera in Limpopo.

According to the Department of Health, both cases are imported from Zimbabwe. 

The first case was confirmed in the Musina sub-district in the Vhembe District after a 43-year-old male patient tested positive and has since been discharged from Musina Hospital.

“The second case is a 27-year-old man, also from Zimbabwe, who presented at Helene Franz Hospital under Capricorn District Municipality, with a history of abdominal cramps, watery diarrhoea and vomiting that started on 11 January 2024,” the department explained. 

The department said this particular patient travelled to Zimbabwe on 9 December 2023 and returned to South Africa on 10 January 2024. 

According to the statement, the patient’s health condition is stable and they are currently in isolation at the hospital.

“His contacts were identified, and the local outbreak response team has been activated to conduct further investigations and provide health education to contacts.”

The department said the country remains on high alert for possible imported cholera cases from Zimbabwe, which is currently battling the outbreak of the disease, which so far claimed over 200 lives. 

The department, in collaboration with the Border Management Authority (BMA), has since intensified health screening at the Beitbridge border post to mitigate the imported cholera cases from Zimbabwe. 

The Deputy Minister has since thanked suspected cholera patients for being honest with their travel history and fully cooperating with health officials.

He appealed to all those with a travel history to cholera outbreak areas to do the same to save lives and prevent further transmission to other people.

“We say to all travellers along N1 from Musina and other parts of the country, please avoid using known or suspected contaminated surfaces, especially in public places and wash hands thoroughly with soap before handling food or after using the bathroom to prevent possible infection,” said Dhlomo. 

All people who experience cholera-like symptoms, with or without travel history to cholera endemic countries and areas, are also encouraged to present themselves to the nearest health facilities without delay.

The symptoms to look out for include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, dehydration and vomiting. 

The department has advised people to never drink water from unsafe sources such as rivers, dams or streams unless boiled or disinfected first. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information System.

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