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Fresh Cholera Outbreak Worries Residents of Zimbabwe's Chiredzi Town

  • Tatenda Gumbo

Officials in Masvingo Province, south-eastern Zimbabwe, have confirmed a fresh cholera outbreak in the sugar-producing town of Chiredzi, which has killed two people since Monday.

About a 100 cases have been recorded, and authorities are blaming the recurrence on serious water shortages.

The outbreak is particularly bad news for the town, which lost more than a dozen lives to the epidemic last year. Health officials have since deployed teams to administer treatment and assess the situation.

Most people in Chiredzi rely on boreholes for drinking water, but many others use canal water meant to irrigate sugar cane plantations. Such water is highly susceptible to contamination.

Head of Epidemilogy and Disease Control in the Health Ministry, Dr. Portia Manangazira told VOA people should seek medical care immediately if they suspect they have been infected.

"We urge people to prevent early if they are not feeling well, and go to the clinic so they can get help," said Manangazira. "With cholera, people die within a few hours of feeling the signs and symptoms due to dehydration."

The water borne disease is characterized by vomiting, dizziness and diarrhea which cause severe fluid loss, leading to dehydration. It can cause death in 24 hours if not treated.

Health officials said the fight to contain the disease is being hampered by serious food shortages in the area.

Chiredzi Central lawmaker Moses Mare said the situation was tense as the population fears for the worst.

He said the lack of properly working water purification pumps has heavily affect people in the area, as two pumps aren't functional and the remaining pump has been stagnant.

"We are going to have a number of meetings advising the community to boil water before drinking because we are having a serious problem in town with the purification plant," said Mare.

Zimbabwe experienced a severe cholera outbreak in 2008 that left at least 4,293 dead by 2010. A deepening political and economic meltdown made it difficult for authorities to respond effectively.

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