By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South African health authorities said Sunday that they have recorded two confirmed cases of cholera imported from neighboring Malawi, where an outbreak has claimed hundreds of lives.
The health department said two sisters who had travelled together from Johannesburg to Malawi to attend a funeral service there developed symptoms of cholera upon their return to the country.
“A close contact (household family member) of one of the patients was admitted to hospital on 4 February with diarrhea and dehydration and is considered a possible case,” the health department said, adding that “laboratory test results are pending and follow-up of close contacts is ongoing.”
Malawi, which recorded a cholera outbreak last year, has so far lost over 1,000 people to the disease.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae, and outbreaks usually occur in settings with inadequate sanitation and insufficient access to safe drinking water. If left untreated, it could cause death.
South Africa’s health department has called for vigilance as the country detects its first cases, urging citizens to observe proper hygiene such as washing their hands with soap and water before and after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food.
South Africa had its last cholera outbreak over a decade ago with about 12,000 cases following an outbreak in neighboring Zimbabwe, according to the health department.