Category: Environmental Health

Water Quality Monitoring in Oudtshoorn

Most diseases in the world are waterborne

Environmental pollution is one of the most serious threats facing all life on earth. It can be defined as the contamination of physical and biological components of the earth/atmospheric system to such extent that normal environmental processes are adversely affected (e.g. water, soil and air). Furthermore, a 2017 study by the World Health organisation (WHO) indicate that 80% diseases are waterborne. Industrialisation, discharge of domestic waste, radioactive waste, population growth, excessive use of pesticides, fertilizers and leakage from water tanks are major sources of water pollution. Humans are therefore the main culprits and pollute water

Water Pollution

Safe and readily available water is a primary human need as well as daily necessity, therefore it is directly linked to public health. Each person on earth requires at least 20 to 50 liters of clean and safe water on a daily basis for drinking, cooking or hygienic purposes. Water is also used for recreational purposes (e.g. swimming) and other activities – thus it is of high importance that water is safe and not contaminated.

Water pollution is defined as the contamination of water bodies like lakes, rivers, oceans and all ground water sources, usually as a result of human activities. Polluted water pose a serious threat to the health of humans, animals and plants. If humans do not put the necessary precautionary measures in place to prepare food, or accidentally ingests polluted water while swimming in a lake, lagoon or swimming pool, they can fall seriously ill and in some cases loose their life. Pollution also poses a serious threat to ecosystems by destroying it partly or completely, which often times take ecosystems decades to recover to its initial healthy state.

Ingesting polluted water can have the following health effects on humans:

  • Water borne illnesses – Cholera
  • Rashes – Typhoid fever
  • Stomach or liver illness – Gastroenteritis/ Hepatitis E
  • Respiratory problems – Botulism/ Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • Neurological problems
  • If left untreated, can cause death

The role of Environmental Health Practitioners

The role of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) in terms of water quality (Health Professions Act 1974 (no 56 of 1974)), are as follows:

  • Monitoring water quality and availability, including mapping of water source.
  • Enforcement of laws and regulations related to water quality management.
  • Ensuring water safety in respect of safe quality (microbiological and chemical), and accessibility to an adequate quantity for domestic use as well as in respect of the quality of water for recreational, industrial, food production and any other human and animal use.
  • Ensuring that water supplies that are readily accessible to communities and to the planning, design, management and health surveillance of community water supplies, that are readily accessible to communities.
  • Ensuring monitoring and effective waste water treatment and water pollution control, including the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage and other water borne waste and control of the quality of surface water (including the sea) and ground water.
  • Advocacy on proper and safe water and waste water usage.
  • Water sampling and testing on the field or in a laboratory.

Monthly monitoring samples at the allocated points are taken by the Municipal Health Services Unit of GRDM. Sample types include: Sea, River, Lake, Sewage (final effluent) and Potable water.

What happens to water samples?

These water samples are transported to accredited Laboratory for bacteriological analysis. The samples are respectively analysed for Coliforms, Escherichia Coli, Feacal Coliforms, Vibrio Cholerae, Vibrio parahaemolyticus just to mention a few types of analysis required by an Environmental Health Practitioner. The laboratory will send the samples results to the Environmental Health Practitioner within 1 week after the laboratory has received and analysed the sample.

After sample results have been obtained by the Environmental Health Practitioner it is his or her responsibility to ensure that the results are scrutinized and then handed over and explained to the responsible party. A monthly report is also sent to the local B – Municipality and to the council of GRDM wherein the water results are explained

If a water source has been contaminated or polluted and the water sample result proves that the sample does not comply to SANS 241 standards, and if deemed necessary, the public will be informed. The District municipality (e.g. social media, articles in local newspapers, radio, health and hygiene education by the Environmental Health Practitioners, etc.) will issue a notice of any risks or dangers regarding the water source that is polluted or contaminated and poses a threat to human life and the environment.

Water samples for chemical analysis will be transported and analysed at the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory in Cape Town. Upon receipt of sample results it is the Environmental Health Practitioners responsibility to ensure that the responsible party is informed about the sample results. A monthly report is also sent to the local B –Municipality and to the council of Garden Route District Municipality wherein the water results are explained.

Garden Route District Municipality’s Municipal Health Services Unit ensures that the role of the EHP in terms of water quality is being carried out in terms of the law and if necessary, that rectification takes place immediately.

If you are aware of any pollution activities, or would like to lodge a complaint, contact the GRDM Municipal Health Services Department at 044 – 803 1300 or send your complaint to info@gardenroute.gov.za

Update on the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring: October 2019

The Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Air Quality Management Unit is pleased to announce that the futuristic robotic looking portable ambient air quality monitoring station has returned after repairs at Scentriod in Canada.

The Scentinal SL50 is used by the GRDM’s Air Quality Management Unit for high accuracy screening purposes as well as obtaining baseline information on ambient air quality in a specific air space in the vicinity of proposed new developments. The robot measures all meteorological parameters, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Total reduced sulphates and Amines, Methane, Volatile Organic Compounds and Particulate Matter with sizes of 1, 2.5 and 10 micron.  The equipment plays a pivotal role in managing air shed and determining the potential accumulative effects in a specific air shed.

The station was recently deployed to the Mossel Bay Harbour in order to obtain baseline information on the ambient air quality in the surrounding area.

The 3rd Generation Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) was recently adopted during a council meeting. The AQMP identified potential air quality “hotspots” within the seven (7) municipalities in the region, by means of a dispersion modelling which make use of emission factors and mathematically simulate on how air pollutants disperse in the ambient atmosphere. The aim of this study was to identify areas of concerns that exist outside the knowledge of the GRDM’s Air Quality Management Unit.

The possible areas of concern are:

  • Bitou: Particulate Matter (PM10)
  • Knysna: Nitrogen Dioxide
  • George: Particulate Matter (PM10)
  • Mossel Bay: Nitrogen Dioxide and odours
  • Oudtshoorn: Particulate Matter (PM10), Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide

Following the identification of the potential areas of concern and pursuing objective 1.5 of the GRDM’s 3rd Generation AQMP, which task the Air Quality Unit to “Initiate and coordinate short-term air quality monitoring projects (where applicable) to verify the dispersion modelling results in potential problem areas”, monitoring will commence in the Knysna, to verify the effect of vehicle emissions in the Main Road of the tourist town.

99-percentile NO2 concentrations along Main Road in Knysna.  Burgundy coloured regions show areas where the air quality standard of 200 µg/m3 may potentially be exceeded.

Subsequent to the Knysna monitoring run, the Scentinal Station will be move to the other areas of concern, namely Bitou and Oudtshoorn.  There are continuous emissions monitoring stations in the George-, Mossel Bay- and Oudtshoorn municipal areas, and the focus will therefore be in regions where there is no permanent monitoring site.

 

Notice for Public Comment – Public Private Partnership for the Development, Design, Finance, Maintenance and Operation of a new District Regional Landfill Site

The Garden Route District Municipality, in terms of the provisions of Section 33 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, No. 56 of 2003 hereby make public its intention to enter into a Municipal Public Private Partnership (Municipal PPP) with a private partner, willing to invest in the financing, design, construction, operation and management of the proposed Garden Route Regional Waste Management Facility including the provision of a hazardous waste cell, bulk transportation of waste, chipping of green waste, the crushing of building rubble and related works as well as alternative waste treatment technologies if such alternative waste treatment technologies can be incorporated on a no additional cost basis.

The proposed Municipal PPP Agreement and an information statement summarising the Municipality’s obligations in terms of the proposed contract can be inspected at the Municipality’s head and satellite offices during the official hours of operation of these offices from 03 October 2019 until 03 November 2019. The Municipal PPP Agreement and information statement will also be available, for the duration of the comment period on the Municipality’s website, www.gardenroute.gov.za.

Click here to download the full advert and click here to download all documents related to this notice.

The Municipal PPP Agreement will be considered for approval by the Municipal Council of the Garden Route District Municipality at its Council meeting to be held at the Municipality’s head-office in George during December 2019.

Members of the local community and other interested parties are invited to submit their comments or representations in respect of the proposed Municipal PPP Agreement to the Garden Route District Municipality before 12:00, 03 November 2019 in a sealed envelope clearly endorsed STAKEHOLDER COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED AGREEMENT FOR A MUNICIPAL PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A REGIONAL LANDFILL FOR THE GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY IN THE MOSSEL BAY AREA” and addressed to: Municipal Manager, Garden Route District Municipality, P.O. Box 12, George, 6530, and to be deposited in the tender box in the foyer of the Garden Route District Municipal head office at 54 York Street, George.

The Information Statement contains more detail on the information requirements to be provided for individuals and/or organisations that are submitting comments.

Any person who wishes to submit comments or representations in respect of the proposed contract who cannot write will be assisted by the Garden Route District Municipality Communication Section at 54 York Street, George.

It must be noted that should the Garden Route District Municipal Council approve this Municipal PPP Agreement during their meeting to be held in December 2019, it will be implemented as soon as possible thereafter.  The agreement as concluded would in terms of Section 84(3) of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 32 of 2000 be made available at the municipal head and satellite offices during office hours for public inspection.

Enquiries can be directed to Mr Morton Hubbe at tel 044 693 0006 or to morton@gardenroute.gov.za.

M Stratu
Municipal Manager
Garden Route District Municipality
P.O. Box 12
George 6530

CHEMICAL SAFETY IN SOUTH AFRICA

The safe transport, handling, use and disposal of hazardous chemicals and receptacles, are of crucial importance to the general health and well-being of members of the public, and the environment as a whole.

Different legislation covers the subject of hazardous substances in South Africa and the aim of this  article is  to focus broadly on the HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT of 1973 (ACT 15 OF 1973).

The HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES ACT, 1973 (ACT 15 OF 1973) deals specifically with the following issues namely:

  1. Licensing;
  2. Conditions of sale;
  3. Keeping of records;
  4. Labelling; and
  5. Disposal of empty containers.

1. Licensing

All manufacturers, importers, wholesale distributors, registered pharmacists and general dealers of Group 1 hazardous substances, must be in possession of a valid license which is renewable annually. Group 1 hazardous substance, which are listed in the act, are extremely toxic and / or corrosive substances with mostly rapid chemical reactions and shall be locked separately from articles of food and drink in an enclosed space reserved solely for the hazardous substance.

The departments of Agriculture as well as National and Provincial Health, are responsible for the issuing of licenses.  The Municipal Environmental Practitioners are responsible to ensure that all cases of poisoning are investigated, as soon as they are notified of any incident.

2. Conditions of sale

All sales must take place at the address mentioned in the license and under control of the person mentioned therein.

All containers must be securely closed, free from leaks and of sufficient strength to withstand rough handling and preclude any loss of content.

  1. Keeping of records

Stock records should reflect the name and quantity of the substance, date of importation or acquisition, name of the supplier and whether the substance will be used for mining, or industrial purposes or to a wholesale distributor, a bona fide laboratory, research institution, teaching institution, government department, agricultural company or any other user. Records and invoices of sales must be kept for a period of 3 years.

  1. Labelling

Information that should reflect on a label must show the chemical name of the product or substances contained therein, the name and address of the supplier, a skull and crossbones symbol with the words “poison” and “keep out of reach of children”. The label and lettering is prescribed in the legislation, as well as directives regarding the disposal of empty containers. Risks involved using the substance, precautions and first aid treatment must be conspicuously labeled.

  1. Disposal of empty containers

Certain categories of hazardous substances empty containers must be returned to the manufacturer under very specific conditions. Other low risk containers can be perforated, flattened and buried at a hazardous land fill site. Empty containers that contained foodstuffs, cosmetics or disinfectants can never be used as containers for hazardous substances. Municipal Environmental Practitioners play a critical role in ensuring that all hazardous and medical waste are stored and disposed of in a safe and effective manner according to international norms and standards.

Hazardous substances can and should be handled as prescribed by legislation. This will ensure that our environment and loved ones are not negatively affected by the use of such substances. It is thus imperative, that we also make use of the above mentioned principles in our homes and workplace.

For more information, please contact the GRDM Municipal Health Section at 044 803 1550.

Water sample results in the Knysna estuary show improvement

Results of water samples taken on the 18th March 2019 indicate the Knysna estuary is safe for recreational use in all sites except the Ashmead Channel, Queen Street, the Train station, and Bongani.  The Ashmead channel is not safe for use for swimming, bait collection, fishing or wading at present. This extends from the areas adjacent to Loerie Park, Cathy Park and up to the area next to Monk’s Caravan Park. The Thesen island waterway on the Ashmead side is also not safe for use at present. Users of the estuary are encouraged to use compliant sites with the Department of Water Affairs guidelines including the Heads, Bollard Bay, the Point, Salt River, Crabs Creek, the Waterfront, the main channel and Belvidere. SANParks’ deepwater samples indicate areas are compliant and confirm that the deeper waters and main channel are safe for use.

Mc Carthy (Health Officer for the Garden Route District Municipality) explains ‘sampling will be done weekly by the District Municipality and in line with tidal flow. We are expecting a flush in 2-3 days and will definitely continue to sample thereafter.’

SANParks has erected signage at four (4) spots around the Knysna estuary warning recreational users not to fish, collect bait or swim there. Notices have been issued to tourism establishments around the area of concern so that they can warn guests not to use the unsafe area of the estuary. SANParks has also sent out regular ranger patrols to the affected area to warn people about the dangers of using the water.

Investigation into the causes of oil and grease that have entered the Waste water Treatment Works (WWTW), causing bacteria to die off and the WWTW to release high loads of E.coli into the estuary has led the Knysna Municipality and Garden Route District’s Health division to sample and check all pump stations. James McCarthy of the District’s Health division says ‘we physically checked all the pump stations to find the cause. We have also sent notices to establishments closest to the stations found to have high levels of oil and grease to request proof of proper disposal of oil stores.’

Apart from this joint investigation, Knysna Municipality has tackled the problem at the WWTW by introducing an oil-eating enzyme into the system while regularly dosing the WWTW with beneficial bacteria from the Brenton-on-Sea waste water works.

A pre-directive was issued by the Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency (BGCMA) to the Knysna Municipality subsequent to the spill from the WWTW. The Municipality will be given an opportunity to provide further action plans to rectify the situation.  According to the Knysna Municipality, the good news is that oil and grease counts in the WWTW are a lot lower since the investigation into the matter two weeks ago.’

The BGCMA has also undertaken to do more regular chemical samples including pH levels, ammonia, nitrates, phosphates levels in the water and others. SANParks has also committed to continue with deepwater samples although they’ve come out positive. Park Manager for Knysna, Megan says ‘in addition, we’ve committed to reviving and chairing the Knysna Estuary Pollution Committee to meet on a weekly basis to tackle this and any future incidents so that we protect the Knysna estuary’s unique biodiversity and tourism value.’

 

Boilerplate: SANParks has also taken deepwater samples and results look positive which means animal and plant life in those areas were not affected by the spikes, such would include the Knysna seahorse, the Knysna Gobi and others. Independent researchers declared the Knysna estuary as number 1 in the country in terms of biodiversity significance back in 2005.

Issued by: SANParks

The risk of using sewage effluent for irrigation purposes

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Although sewage effluent contains high levels of essential plant nutrients and minerals that stimulate growth, the use of effluent however also poses several short-and long-term health threats to the user. Effluent is mostly applied for irrigation during dry seasons with rapid evaporation of water, leaving behind high concentrations of non-biodegradable chemicals, which gradually drain into the groundwater and remain active for long periods of time, rendering it unfit for use.

The practice of re-using treated sewage effluent in times of great water scarcity and drought conditions is recognised internationally. This is mainly evident in the agricultural sector where sewage is diverted for irrigation of crops, orchards or even on recreational sport fields. This practice has now been extended to the irrigation of local household gardens. Local entrepreneurs are exploring this trade of distribution of sewage effluent. With the current water scarcity situation, this trade may be seen as an alternative water source as opposed to fresh water from the municipal distribution system. Section 24 of the CONSTITUTION OF REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, (ACT NO. 108 OF 1996), states that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being.

Relative health risk from sewage effluent usage

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are significant health implications associated with the use of sewage for irrigation. These “sewage chemicals” contain domestic, industrial, pharmaceutical and hospital waste discharges. The following chemicals may typically be found: salts, minerals, heavy metals, pesticide residues and synthetic compounds such as disinfection by-products, pharmaceutically active chemicals such as endocrine disrupters and various acids. Some chemicals, for example, bromodichloro-methane, may be associated with miscarriages in women, while heavy metals may accumulate in the leaves or roots of many vegetables, posing risks to human health when consumed.

Furthermore, sewage effluent (especially when inadequately treated) also contains high levels of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites, of which the majority may pose a serious health threat after exposure/ingestion. Bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium, several strains of Eschericia coli, and Vibrio cholera, as well as entero-viruses such as polio-, echo and coxsackie viruses are recognised human pathogens. Parasites or their microscopic ova, such as hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms and bilharzia are commonly found. The majority of these micro-organisms have the ability to remain viable and infective for periods up to 30 days and some even as long as several months.

While the reuse of sewage effluent seems to be sensible in times of water scarcity and may even look good as a long term solution, contact exposure to this water source or soil and plants or irrigated playgrounds and lawns may pose a serious health risk to keen gardeners and recreational sport field users. Symptoms may include diarrhoea, fever, generalised infections, infections of skin abrasions, malnutrition from worm infestation, to more serious long term effects from ingestion of aforementioned chemicals and heavy metals. Whilst the serious water shortage in the Garden Route region is recognised, the continued use of sewage effluent as source of irrigation for household gardens and crops is not recommended.

Please contact the Municipal Health Section of the Garden Route District Municipality for further information at 044- 803 1300.

Disposal of the Dead

Section 24 of the CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH AFRICA, 1996, (ACT NO. 108 OF 1996) states that everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and to have the environment protected through reasonable legislative measures.  Environmental Health Practitioners are appointed in terms of the NATIONAL HEALTH ACT, 2003 (ACT NO 61 OF 2003) and has the legislative responsibility to enforce legislation to protect the general public.

Environmental Health Practitioners perform functions as listed in the SCHEDULE OF THE SCOPE OF PROFESSIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH (GOVERNMENT NOTICE R888 OF 26 APRIL 1991).  Nine (9) key performance areas are listed as the roles and functions of Municipal Health Services of which one is the disposal of the dead.

The disposal of the dead is governed by THE REGULATIONS RELATING TO THE MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN REMAINS, NO. R.363 OF 22 MAY 2013 (R363) promulgated under the NATIONAL HEALTH ACT, 2003 (ACT NO 61 OF 2003).

 Disposal of the dead involves;

  • The monitoring of funeral undertakers, mortuaries, embalmers, crematoriums, graves and cemeteries for compliance; and
  • The management, control and monitoring of exhumation, reburial and the disposal of human remains.

The Municipal Health Department of the Garden Route District Municipality is responsible for the issuing of a Certificate of Competency to an operator who carries out any of the abovementioned activities.

To obtain a Certificate of Competency, the following process must be followed:

  • A written application must be submitted to the relevant authority in the area of jurisdiction where the premises is located (Garden Route District Municipality).
  • After evaluation and careful consideration of the application, an Environmental Health Practitioner will conduct a site visit.
  • If the Environmental Health Practitioner is of the opinion that the premises comply with the relevant legislation, a Certificate of Competence will be issued for a premises.

Take note: a Certificate of Competency is valid for a period of two (2) years from the date issued, therefore the Owner or Manager must apply in writing for a new certificate.

New funeral undertakers are required to follow a public participation process, before submitting an application for a Certificate of Competence.  A notice must be published in the local newspaper, not less than 21 days, before submitting an application.  The notice must be published in the main language of the area, as well as an additional language.

The notice shall contain all the relevant information of the local authority where the application will be submitted, to allow the opportunity for the public to submit any comments with substantiated representations to such local authority.

During regular inspections it is the responsibility of the Environmental Health Practitioner to ensure that the following facilities are available on the premises to ensure compliance with Regulation 363, namely;

  • A preparation room for the preparation of human remains;
  • Change-rooms, separate for each sex, for the use by the employees employed at such premises;
  • Refrigeration facilities for the refrigeration of human remains;
  • Facilities for the washing and cleansing of utensils and equipment inside the building;
  • Facilities for the cleansing of vehicles on such premises, equipped with approved drainage systems,
  • Facilities for the loading and unloading of human remains; and
  • Facilities for backup source electricity, in the case of power failure.

Exhumation and reburials of human remains

No exhumations and reburials of human remains shall take place without the written consent and/or approval from relevant local government or a court order issued by a magistrate.  An exhumation approval cannot be issued without a reburial permit.  These permits shall only be granted on condition that the exhumation of the human remains is done by a registered undertaker.

An exhumation must take place:

  • When the cemetery is not open to the public.
  • Under the supervision of the officer-in-charge.
  • In the presence of a member of the South African Police Services (SAPS).
  • Under the supervision of an Environmental Health Practitioner.

It is the responsibility of the Environmental Health Practitioner to monitor the process to ensure that no health nuisance or hazard is caused and/or arise during the exhumation.

Any complaints related to the operations and/or activities of funeral undertakers, mortuaries or crematoriums, must be logged at the respective Regional offices within the Garden Route District Municipality.

Public Awareness:  Vector Control

Vector control is an important component of many disease control programmes.  It is a cornerstone of very effective campaigns to control vector-borne diseases. For a number of diseases where there is no effective treatment or cure, such as West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever (not endemic to the Garden Route), vector control remains the only way to protect populations.

Vector control is any method to limit or eradicate the mammals, birds, insects or other blood-feeding arthropods, collectively called vectors, which transmit disease pathogens. Mosquitoes are the best-known invertebrate vector and it transmits a wide range of tropical diseases, including Malaria, Dengue and Yellow fever. Another large group of vectors is flies.

However, even for vector-borne diseases with effective applications, the high cost of treatment remains a huge barrier to a large number of developing countries. Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, bugs and sand flies. Despite being treatable, malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitos in Africa, has by far the greatest impact on human health. A child in Africa dies of malaria every minute, although vector control measures that have been in effect since 2000, reduced fatalities with 50%.

As the impact of diseases and viruses are devastating, the need to control the vectors in which the disease or viruses are carried, continues to be prioritised. Vector control in many developing countries can have tremendous effects on mortality rates, especially among infants. The high movement of populations causes  diseases to spread rapidly – the Garden Route District cannot be excluded from this migration trend.

Control measures:

  1. Remove or reduce areas where vectors can easily breed. This will limit their growth, for example, the removal of stagnant water, riddance of old tyres and cans that serves as mosquito breeding environments.
  2. Limit exposure to insects or animals that are known disease vectors can reduce infection risks significantly, for example, window screens or protective clothes can help reduce the likelihood of contact with vectors.
  3. Chemical control by using insecticides, rodenticides or repellents to control vectors.
  4. Biological control, the use of natural vector predators such as bacterial toxins or botanical compounds can help control vector populations, for example, using of fish that eat the mosquito larvae.

Prevent vectors by wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and long pants, tucked into socks or boots. Use repellent on exposed skin and clothing, to protect yourself from being bitten by mosquitos, sand flies or ticks. Simple hygiene measures can reduce or prevent the spread of many diseases.

Avoid vector-borne diseases:

  1. Before travelling, vaccinate against diseases prevalent at your destination for example, Yellow fever. Antimalarial medicines is also available.
  2. Use window screens to control mosquitoes.
  3. Sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, if in a place or area with a malaria risk.
  4. Check your body regularly for ticks. If you find one, remove it with a tweezers and apply a skin disinfectant. In a tick- infested area, check your clothing, luggage and other belongings.
  5. Avoid contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people or animals.
  6. Make sure to keep strict hygiene control of food and avoid unpasteurised dairy products in areas where tick-borne diseases are prevalent.
  7. If bitten and did receive treatment abroad, please remember to complete your treatment course at home.
  8. If you become ill upon your return, tell your doctor where you have been, as you may have brought a disease back with you.
  9. Child care facilities should treat their sandpits with salt on a regular basis to prevent vectors.

Awareness:  Rabies

What is Rabies

Rabies is a contagious and deadly viral disease, causing damage to the brain and the spinal cord. It affects both humans and animals, and in most cases, results in death once the disease symptoms develop.

How is Rabies spread?

The rabies virus is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of infected animals. It is transmitted to humans and other animals through contact with the saliva or tissue of an infected animals; bites, scratches, licks on broken skin and mucous membranes. Once the symptoms of the disease develop, rabies becomes fatal to both humans and animals.

What are the symptoms of rabies in humans?

Rabies symptoms may occur as early as one week and as late as several years after contact with, or bite from an infected animal. Seek treatment immediately after animal bite. Do not wait for symptoms to develop.

The symptoms in humans include:

  • headache and fever;
  • irritability, restlessness and anxiety;
  • muscle pains, malaise, hydrophobia (fear of water) and vomiting;
  • hoarse voice;
  • paralysis;
  • mental disorder;
  • profuse salivation; and
  • difficulty swallowing.

What to do following a bite or contact with a suspected rabid animal?

If been bitten or had contact with a dog or stray animal, a pet or farm animal that is behaving strangely (wild animal becomes friendly or domestic animal became wild), please follow the following steps:-

  • Wash the wound with clean water and soap immediately for at least ten minutes;
  • Apply an antiseptic ethanol or iodine;
  • Immediately consult a doctor for treatment and advice; and
  • Contact your nearest state veterinarian, clinic or doctor.

When should you suspect that an animal is infected with rabies?

Suspect that an animal is infected with rabies when it shows behavioural changes such as restlessness, irritability, excitability and shyness.

How do animals become infected?

Wild and domestic animals can become infected by:

  • When bitten by an infected animal;
  • A fight between a pet and an unknown or stray animal; and
  • A domestic animal with injuries of unknown origin.

How is rabies controlled?

  • Immediately isolate the suspected animal and inform your State Veterinarian.
  • Have your dogs and cats vaccinated regularly (all pets three months or older must be vaccinated).
  • Do not allow your pets to roam the streets.
  • Rabies is a dangerous infection. Do not handle suspected animals.
  • Report all suspected rabies cases to your nearest state veterinarian, animal health technician or to the police.

What animals most often implicated in rabies transmission?

Domestic- dogs, cats, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, guinea pigs,

Wild- mongoose, suricate mongoose, civet, small spotted genet, caracal, serval, lion, African wildcat, small-spotted cat, felid species, honey badger, striped polecat, striped weasel, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, wild dog, cape fox, aardwolf, brown hyena, ground squirrel, tree squirrel, greater cane cat, cape hyrax, Chakma baboon, warthog, impala, duiker, steenbok, kudu, eland, blesbok, bushbuck, reedbuck, springbuck, burchell’s zebra, herbivore species and scrub hare.

Contact details of the State Veterinarian in our district: Tel 044 8735527

Awareness: Interventions by EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality in prevention of the Cholera

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) fulfil their responsibilities by working in accordance to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the National Health Act.  In conducting their day-to-day tasks, EHPs are responsible to render services in line with the nine (9) key performances areas of Municipal Health Services, which include: water quality monitoring, food safety management, waste management, health surveillance of premises, surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases, environmental pollution control, disposal of dead, chemical safety and vector control.

In the execution of the abovementioned and in ensuring that communities have the opportunity to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and/or environment, the EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality constantly perform Moore pad sampling in a quest to prevent the outbreak of the Cholera disease.  Through this ongoing monitoring and assessments, these officials play a major role in the prevention of disease outbreak or sudden environmental health threats.

EHP, Ms Nokuphiwa Mbali, putting “Moore Pad” sample at Piesang River; one of the sampling points of Garden Route District Municipality.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is an endemic disease, and the Vibrio Cholera bacteria is often found in the aquatic environment, where it can remain dormant for long periods of time as part of the normal flora of brackish water and river estuaries.  It flares up under favourable conditions associated with algae blooms (plankton), which is influenced by the temperature of the water.  Infected humans, who are temporary carriers, are one of the main reservoirs of the pathogenic form of Vibrio cholerae. Cholera is spread, as most other viral and bacterial diarrhoeal diseases, by contaminated water and food, i.e. the faecal-oral route.  The ever-present role of flies and other vectors in the faecal-oral route must be kept in mind. Cholera is rarely transmitted by direct person-to-person contact.

Critical factors which influence the spreading of cholera

There are three main factors that are critical in their influence on the epidemic spreading of cholera, namely:

  • lack of access to medical treatment facilities;
  • lack of access to safe water supply and sanitation services; and
  • socio-economic living conditions.

The process of “Moore pad” sampling

Place sterile surgical gauze swab tied with a length of 1 meter string into the flowing river or sewage so that the pad hangs below the surface of the water. This pad should remain in place for 72 hours, after which it should be pulled out, into a pre-prepared sterile bottle containing double strength alkaline peptone water.  The labeled specimens must be sent to the laboratory at room temperature for analysis.

The sampling rate is higher during season periods where water from the rivers and the lagoon are running into the ocean.  Vibrio cholera bacteria is often found in the aquatic environment where it can remain dormant for long periods as part of the normal flora of salt water.