Amid reports and several warnings of an increase in typhoid outbreaks in the country, majority of the people have been turning a deaf ear to these warnings as people continue to sell and buy foodstuff in areas which pose a threat to their health.
In Harare,densely populated suburbs like Glen view,Glen Norah, Hopley, Budiriro and Hatfield have been hit hard with this outbreak but people are doing very little to protect themselves from this outbreak and continue to use water from unsafe sources.
Typhoid/typhoid fever/enteric fever is a life threatening illness associated with fever caused by theSalmonella typhi bacteria. It can also be caused by Salmonella paratyphi, a related bacterium that usually causes a less severe illness. The bacteria are deposited in water or food by a human carrier and are then spread to other people in the area. It is an infectious bacterial fever with an eruption of red spots on the chest and abdomen and severe intestinal irritation.
Signs and symptoms of Typhoid usually appear after 1-3 weeks after exposure and maybe mild or severe.The following list are some of the sign:
- poor appetite;
- abdominal pain;
- generalized aches and pains;
- fever, often up to 104 F;
- lethargy (usually only if untreated);
- intestinal bleeding or perforation (after two to three weeks of the disease);
- diarrhoea or constipation
- enlarged spleen or liver
- rose colored spot on chest
Typhoid is usually transmitted through water and food just like cholera is passed on. Several source include water,fresh foods like fruits, fish and meat and pre-cooked foods sold in the open.
People who are infected excrete live bacteria in their feces and urine. They are usually contagious for a few days before any symptoms develop, so they don’t know they need to take extra precautions. If they don’t wash their hands properly, the typhoid bacillus can be transferred to food or water and from there to another person. Also, it can be spread directly from person to person via contaminated fingers.
About 3% of infected people (treated or not)become asymptomatic carriers of Salmonella typhi.This means that they continue to shed bacteria in their feces for at least a year and often for life but don’t have any symptoms of typhoid. There are a small number of typhoid carriers in every country.
It is disappointing to note that a large number of people know little or nothing about this disease and are not taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves from this disease.Economic hardships and the looming El nino effect worsen this situation as most people survive through selling food stuff and many other pro-typhoid methods further spreading this disease.
To prevent contamination of the disease people are encouraged hand washing and ensuring drinking water pipes are well separated from sewage pipes. Food should be carefully prepared and food handlers need to be especially vigilant with regard to hand washing and wearing gloves. Avoiding raw and uncooked food can also prevent the spread of typhoid and food that has been left over from a previous meal should be re-heated adequately before being eaten.The public should avoid buying cooked food from untrusted and public vendor and wash fruits with clean water before consumption.