City officials of the Zimbabwean capital of Harare said Tuesday more than 600 residents have been treated for typhoid amid fears the bacterial disease may be spreading.
Most cases were recorded in the Kuwadzana high-density suburb where more than 90 people were treated at Beatrice Infectious Diseases Hospital. Cases have also been reported in Warren Park, Kambuzuma and Dzivaresekwa, officials said.
No deaths have occurred, but some 660 people have received treatment for the disease and about 70 remained hospitalized as of today, officials said.
Local authorities said health experts determined that the latest outbreak was caused by contaminated foods traded by street vendors in open markets. Some samples of meat and fish tasted positive for the typhoid bacterium.
Officials have ruled out drinking water as the cause of the outbreak, saying the city's water supplies and sanitation infrastructure are satisfactory.
City Health Director Dr. Prosper Chonzi told the state-run Herald newspaper that residents should still "boil water for domestic use, including treating it with [purification] tablets," which should be available at no cost at municipal clinics.
Harare Councilor Peter Moyo told VOA that vendors and consumers must take steps to ensure cleanliness to prevent further spread of the disease.
But some activists are disputing the council’s explanation, blaming the outbreak on poor local sanitation. Harare Residents Trust Coordinator Precious Shumba said the real cause is unhygienic and unhealthy water supplies and sanitary conditions.