Bereaved family in cholera storm

Sharon Chigeza and Lovemore Kadzura Post Correspondents

A RUSAPE bereaved family is in the eye of a storm after it reportedly buried the corpse of relative who died of cholera without notifying health experts in the district, thereby putting mourners at the risk as funerals are potential gatherings where the disease can be transmitted.

The corpse was brought from Glenview in Harare for burial in Masvova village on the outskirts of Rusape last week.

With funerals being regarded as potential sites where cholera can be transmitted, fears now abound this could have become a mode of spreading the disease to Rusape.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Makoni district Civil Prptection Unit by the district nursing officer (DNO) Sister Dorothy Mapingire on Wednesday.

She said the burial was not supervised by health officials as required and a health team has been deployed in the village to closely monitor those who attended the burial.

“There is one person who died of cholera in Glenview 3 and was buried in Masvosva village. Such burials should be supervised by our officials, but in this particular case, the bereaved family just brought the body from Harare and buried it in the village without our supervision. We dispatched a team last Saturday to investigate how the burial was conducted and though they did not open the casket for body viewing, we are doing active daily surveillance checks and monitoring those who attended the funeral,” said Sr Mapingire.

She said special care should be taken to prepare and handle the body for burial and during a funeral so others do not get ill with cholera.

However, the Manicaland, provincial medical director (PMD) Dr Patron Mafaune said yesterday said the cholera outbreak was under control and there was no need to panic.

Dr Mafaune said since the detection of two cases in Rusape and one in Buhera, the province has not recorded new cases and rapid response teams were on the ground monitoring the situation.

“We have dispatched our rapid response teams throughout the province and are working flat out to keep the situation under control. We have not yet received any new incidence of the disease and there is no need to panic,” said Dr Mafaune.

Reports of new outbreaks in Chikanga, Dangamvura have been dismissed while the Mutasa case has been explained.

“No cholera has been detected in Chikanga and Dangamvura,” said Mutare City spokesman Mr Spreni Mutiwi.

In Rusape, a father and son have been quarantined for cholera treatment at Rusape General Hospital and stakeholders in the district are on high alert.

Backyard food outlets and school feeding programmes have been temporarily suspended as part of preventative measures.

Sr Mapingire said the two patients at Rusape General Hospital contracted the disease from Glenview and symptoms manifested on their way from a family function in Mutasa.

“In Makoni we have two confirmed cases of cholera and one death. The two, who are in hospital, are father and son. They had gone to Bonda in Samusodza village for a family function and reside in Glenview, Harare. The father, mother and son were aboard a bus on their way back when the former started vomiting and having diarrhea. He stopped the bus three times to relieve himself. The family was then dropped in Rusape to get treatment, where they were rushed to hospital. The man and his son tested positive to cholera and we are still waiting for the woman’s results.

“We have converted our TB Unit into a cholera camping site. We have embarked on a serious sensitisation programme to alert the public on the outbreak. We have engaged the bus crew to show us all the three spots where the patient relived himself so that we could disinfect them. We also need to spray the bus in question and we are also calling upon the driver of the pirate taxi that rushed the patients to hospital to come forth with the vehicle for spraying.

Makoni district administrator and Civil Protection Unit chairperson Mr Darlington Museka said they were taking measures to eradicate the disease.

“We have shut all backyard food outlets in Rusape, Nyazura and Headlands and ordered schools to temporarily stop the feeding programmes until cholera is fully combated,” he said, adding that they will be meeting the leadership of a local apostolic church that intends to hold its annual convention in Gandanzara