Diarrhoea outbreak hits Bulawayo


A FATAL contagious diarrhoea outbreak affecting infants and young children has hit Bulawayo.


Worsening the situation is that there is no vaccine to stop its spread, Mpilo Hospital clinical medical director Dr Wedu Ndebele told Southern Eye on Tuesday. The outbreak is caused by the rotavirus gastroenteritis, which is an infection characterised by vomiting, watery diarrhoea, fever and dehydration leading to death.

“Rotavirus is mostly common in winter. Currently, we do not have a rotavirus vaccine to stop the spread of this diarrhoea,” Ndebele said.

Diarrhoea is one of the child killer diseases in the world.

“The rotavirus vaccine was supposed to be introduced this year, but because of financial challenges, it was not introduced,” he added.

The World Health organisation in 2009, said a rotavirus vaccine should be introduced in immunisation programmes to reduce infant mortality. Botswana, Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia, South Africa and Sudan are the only six African countries that have so far introduced the vaccine in their immunisation programmes.

Ndebele said statistics of infants and young children suffering from diarrhoea were not readily available.

“It started (diarrhoea) more than a week ago. We do not have exact statistics,” he added.

A survey by Southern Eye showed that a number of infants and young children have been diagnosed with the rotavirus diarrhoea.

Infants and children diagnosed with the disease are being referred to Mpilo Hospital.

“I gave my child a sugar-and-salt solution, but he kept vomiting. I had to come to Mpilo Hospital because of the vomiting and the diarrhoea that was not stopping,” a concerned parent, Gugulethu Moyo, said.

Ashly Ndlovu, accompanying his wife to Mpilo Hospital, said there should have been an awareness campaign to warn them about the diarrhoea.

“At least, there should have been an awareness campaign,” Ndlovu said, saying his child had been given a sugar-and-salt solution sachet and a prescription to buy zinc sulphate tablets.

A Google search shows that rotavirus is a leading cause of severe diarrhoea among young children, leading to two million hospitalisations and more than 500 000 deaths.