Ministry of Health says over 65 typhoid fever cases have been reported in Nsambe area in Traditional Authority (T/A) Dambe in Neno since the outbreak was reported on August 6 last year.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe said this in response to an emailed questionnaire on Friday, stressing the ministry is trying hard to contain the outbreak.
“It must be noted that since the outbreak was first reported no life has been lost. This indicates that patients are seeking care early, thanks to health education, and that the treatment being offered is effective,” said Chikumbe.
Cases of typhoid fever are not new in this area as a similar outbreak claimed 35 lives in 2011.
Chikumbe said the area is prone to typhoid fever because of poor hygiene practices, adding that it is hard to reach and the majority of the communities lack access to safe water supply.
He, however, said the ministry has been conducting health education on safe drinking water, hand washing, personal hygiene, food safety and early treatment to reduce the spread of the disease.
Neno district health officer (DHO) Lawrence Nazimera said his office only managed to test and confirm six cases as the blood culture machine at the district hospital stopped working last November when the outbreak had just began.
He said: “We have sent some blood samples to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital [QECH] for testing, but we are still giving the patients recommended medicine looking at how critical the situation is.”
“If we are to contain the disease we have to treat them so that it does not continue spreading. After all, the people we are treating had shown similar signs to those we confirmed.”
Nazimera said, so far, they have admitted 13 patients, whose conditions were very critical, to Neno District Hospital while others are receiving treatment in various health centres as out-patients.
Chikumbe added that, while it has affected screening for the disease, the absence of a blood culture machine has not affected management of the disease. He said the ministry was working to fix the situation.
Meanwhile civil society organisations in the district have teamed up with district health officials to sensitise people on the disease to prevent further spread.
The CSOs network chairperson Russell Msiska said the CSOs have ome up with strategies to ensure that those infected receive treatment as quickly as possible. n