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South Africa: The eThekwini Municipality KZN Public Awareness Campaigns on Diarrhea Increase
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Friday, July 12, 2013
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Jul 12, 2013

At least 30 fatalities have been reported since the outbreak was confirmed in June. Deaths have occurred in uMlazi’s Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital (22), King Edward VIII Hospital (four) and Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital (four). However, there have been no deaths reported since 6 July.
Speaking to SAnews, Deputy Head of Health responsible for Communicable Disease Services in eThekwini Municipality, Dr Ayo Olowolagba, said they have implemented several public awareness campaigns through community radio stations and care-givers are doing door-to-door visits in the worst-affected areas around Durban (Inanda, Ntuzuma, and KwaMashu, Umlazi and Mayville). Political councillors have also been roped in to talk to people on the ground.
“All our clinics are on high alert and have been equipped with functional Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) Corner,” Olowolagba said.
He said the key message was personal hygiene. Parents are urged to wash their hands thoroughly before preparing meals for their infants and children. They are also urged to ensure that children are washed properly, including cleaning their toys.
“Breastfeeding remains the best for infants, notwithstanding personal hygiene. If a child passes two to three loose stools within a few hours, parents are urged to immediately treat them with oral hydration solution – salt, water and sugar, before taking them to the nearest clinic,” he said.
If the child does develop diarrhoea, a simple solution of eight level teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt per litre of clean water (or pre-packed oral rehydration solution (ORS) obtainable from the clinic or pharmacy is adequate for rehydration. A child under two years needs at least 1-2 cups of ORS after each watery stool, while children over two years may need more ORS after each watery stool.
Warning signs of severe dehydration include the child being lethargic, loss of elasticity of the skin, sunken eyes and no tears when crying. If these signs appear, the child needs to be taken to a medical facility.
Olowolagba said as a result of heightened public awareness, reported cases have increased, exceeding 700, but “we are not worried, as the situation is under control”.
According to a statement issued by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a total of 242 specimens have been received from hospitals and clinics in the eThekwini Municipality during June 2013, with 55% of cases attributable to rotavirus.
The statement confirms that some of the infected children had been vaccinated.
“The Rotavirus strains associated with the epidemic include strains which the vaccine protects against,” read the statement.
The Rotavirus vaccine has a reported 77 percent efficacy.
“There are no antibiotics to treat rotavirus. Our best bet is to improve our sanitation, personal hygiene as well as environmental factors associated with urban living. In cases of an outbreak, rehydration remains our last line of defence.”
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