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Thu Jun 30 10:33:18 SAST 2016

Joburg typhoid scare blows over

Katharine Child | 25 January, 2016 00:05

The National Institute of Communicable of Diseases has said there is no typhoid outbreak in Johannesburg.

Four cases of typhoid detected in Johannesburg over the past two weeks were investigated by the health department and found to be unrelated.

A 27-year-old woman died from typhoid at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital after returning from Malawi and Mozambique recently.

The department's outbreak response teams visited the homes of the four patients in Hillbrow, Yeoville, Palm Springs and Edenvale at the weekend to investigate if the cases were linked.

Typhoid is spread by contaminated food or water.

Causing fever, headaches, stomach pains and joint pains, it is usually treatable with antibiotics.

Gauteng health department spokesman Steve Mabona said doctors, nurses and the public needed to be aware that fever, headache and abdominal pains were symptoms of typhoid.

"Health professionals are advised to test such patients for typhoid. If this is not possible they must be referred to institutions capable of such testing," Mabona said.

Mabona said two of the patients had travelled back from Zimbabwe together and a third, who died, had recently returned from Malawi and Mozambique.

Lucille Blumberg, deputy director of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, said that although it was unusual to have so many cases of typhoid at the same time, typhoid itself was not uncommon.

"There are a few hundred cases of typhoid a year in South Africa. It can be serious, but it usually responds to antibiotics."

Despite reports suggesting that the typhoid bacteria that had infected the Johannesburg patients were an antibiotic-resistant strain, Blumberg said none of them was.

Malaria is the disease to which most travellers are at risk.

Doctors routinely test for malaria in all patients who complain of headache and fever and have recently travelled to a malaria region.

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