Despite a slow start to the ‘surge season’ – when higher temperatures promote an increase in the prevalence of diarrhoea cases – and a decline in reported cases, two fatalities have been reported, the city of Cape Town said on Monday

“To date, reported figures show a 25% decline in the number of reported cases for the 2019/20 season as compared to the 2018/19, but already two fatalities have been reported.

“Hospital admissions for severe dehydration are down by approximately 30%”, the statement said.

The city of Cape Town says it has ramped up awareness initiatives over the past decade to deal with the prevalence of diarrhoea cases, especially among children, during ‘surge season’, November to April, when higher temperatures promote the spread of germs.

“Children under the age of five remain vulnerable to this preventable disease, particularly in developing countries,” the city said, adding that it had also introduced a number of measures at clinics and hospitals to fast-track medical attention for children who show symptoms of dehydration associated with diarrhoea.

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“We can only speculate about the drop in the caseload, but it is nonetheless encouraging, particularly the drop in hospital admissions, but also the number of cases with dehydration.

“To date, temperatures have been reasonably mild, but this is likely to change in the coming months, so we all need to be on alert for symptoms of diarrhoea in young children,” said the city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, councillor Zahid Badroodien.

He also encouraged people to make sure through their personal hygiene habits that they assist in prevention of spreading germs, and children contracting diarrhoea, in the first place.

“Prevention is always better than cure,” Badroodien said.

Symptoms

The city has detailed some of the symptoms that people should be aware of to detect diarrhoea, especially in small children and other vulnerable sectors of the population.

These include vomiting, loose watery stools (runny stomach), lethargy (low energy), dehydration (which is associated with passing little urine, dry mouth, few tears when crying, sunken eyes and weakness).

In cases of severe dehydration symptoms include drowsiness, pale/mottled skin, cold hands or feet, dry nappies, fast and shallow breathing.

“Caregivers are advised to keep their children hydrated by giving them rehydration solutions, breast milk, thin soup or very thin porridge and to feed it to them a little bit at a time.

“However, if you’re unsure, play it safe and get the child to the nearest clinic as soon as possible, where a proper assessment can be made and appropriate action taken,” Badroodien said.

“Research has shown that hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent diarrhoea from spreading, so please wash utensils and hands before eating, and in the case of young children specifically, wash their bottles, bowls, spoons and teats before feeding them,” Badroodien said.

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Author: ANA Newswire