Category: Environmental Health

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.

Municipal Health team educates learners of Hoogekraal Primary School about health & hygiene

The Municipal Health team from the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), on Wednesday, 24 October 2018, surprised the learners and educators from the Hoogekraal Primary School near George, with a “different type” of health and hygiene training.

Juanita Samuels listens carefully and demonstrates to her fellow learners how hands must be properly washed.
The drama group “Youth for Change” performing various plays to educate learners about the importance of good health and hygiene practises. The group was formally trained by Garden Route District Municipality through a “Peer Educational Training Programme”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The learners looked confused when the team arrived, but soon a change in atmosphere took place when Ms Lana Don, Environmental Health Practitioner from the Municipal Health office in George led them with a song “Hands, shoulders, knees and toes” where after she opened the event with a prayer.

The highlight of the event was when the “Youth for Change” drama group from Oudtshoorn performed various plays to convey messages relating to daily health and hygiene practises.

In the play, the learners witnessed how their “Grandmother” passed away in front of them due to poor health practises and unhealthy eating habits.  Seeing this happen, got some of them almost in tears. The young audience was not impressed with the bad and unhealthy lifestyle of their “Grandma” which ended up causing her death.

Learners and educators of the Hoogekraal Primary School, with the Municipal Health team from Garden Route District Municipality and the “Youth for Change” drama group, soon after the health & hygiene formal programme.

Ms Carike Jantjies, during her presentation to the learners focused on various aspects, such as the safe storing of food and the temperature in which food must be warmed up.  “Food must be stored in a temperature of no less than 5oC and must be heated in a temperature of 60oC or more,” she emphasised.  Ms Jantjies also enlightened the learners about Listeriosis, how it is borne and the dangers thereof.  Environmental Health Practitioner, Ms Janine van Wyk, with colleagues Ms Ivy Mamegwa and Ms Sive Mkuta, demonstrated proper hand washing techniques to the learners.  Ms van Wyk explained to the learners: “Do not only wash your hands, but also from the lower to the upper (middle) part of your arm”.  Ms Van Wyk furthermore reiterated that, hands must be washed after playing or after lunch breaks and after using the toilet.

Ms Emmy Douglas, GRDM Chief:  Municipal Health at the GRDM George office, thanked the school principal, Mr Grootboom, for warmly welcoming the team on their arrival and allowing them to educate the learners in respect of good health & hygiene habits. She extended a special word of gratitude to the drama group and said:  “You portrayed and conveyed the message to the learners in the best way possible, and we thank you”.

Mr Grootboom officially thanked the GRDM team and the drama group for making time and effort to reach out to the school.  He said: “It clearly shows that Garden Route District Municipality did not forget about our school’s existence. We truly appreciate this important outreach”.  Mr Desmond Paulse, Manager:  Municipal Health from the Oudtshoorn area, also attended the event.

Informal Food Traders from Mossel Bay receive training

 

The informal food trading sector in South Africa has a positive impact on micro businesses which contributes to job creation, poverty alleviation and establishment of breadwinners in communities.   The sector plays a critical role in food security, facilitating access to food by poor people living in urban areas and has the potential to expand the economic viability of the region.

To address the Key Performance Areas set for Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs), the EHPs of the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Mossel Bay office, facilitated an awareness training session, focusing on informal food traders selling offal on 3 October 2018, at the Asla Park Community Hall.   The aim of this type of training is to educate traders on basic food hygiene practices, as outlined in legislation and also to ensure that food being consumed does not pose health risks. The importance of safe, hygienic food handling and selling in the prevention of food poisoning outbreaks, are always emphasized during these events.

The thirteen Informal Food Traders from KwaNonqaba and Asla Park in Mossel Bay, after the training session conducted by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners, Mr Lukanyo Mafuduka (left) and Ms Neo-Lay Britz (right).

Fifteen Informal Food Traders from Mossel Bay attended the session. The following aspects were covered during the training:

  • registration of food stalls
  • food safety
  • food poisoning
  • how does one contract food poisoning
  • signs and symptoms of food poisoning
  • five keys to safer food, which entail:
  • keeping clean;
  • separating raw food from cooked food;
  • cooking food thoroughly;
  • keeping food at safe temperatures; and
  • using safe water and safe raw material.

Subsequently to the training session, interviews were conducted with participants who indicated that the training was significant. The session also confirmed that they were not familiar with some of the opportunities in Mossel Bay, and how it could benefit them. Attendees also indicated that they would appreciate if more training could be rolled out to them. Incentives such as cooler boxes, storage containers, meat trays, hairnets and aprons, were given to all the participants who attended the training

More training sessions will be conducted by the GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners throughout the year to ensure that safety and hygiene standards are met in order to protect the public.

World Environmental Health Day celebrated

Statistics from the Department of Health showed, that many children and adults are suffering from diseases, such as diarrhoea, which can be easily prevented or cured, but sometimes result in very sad consequences.

To address this problem, the Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Klein Karoo municipal health office developed a drama production aimed at creating awareness among community members, especially school children.

The aim of the drama production was to:

  • promote good food safety practices;
  • educate learners and the community, on how germs and infections are transmitted;
  • improve hygiene behaviour; and
  • prevent the spread of diarrhoeal and other hygiene-, sanitation- and water related diseases in communities.

A local actor and four (4) peer educators were approached to assist with the performance.  The drama piece was also developed in commemoration of World Environmental Health Day, on 26 September 2018, themed – “Food Security and Sustainability”.

Actors and Environmental Health officials with some of the community members from Hoeko (Ladismith) who attended the information session.

On 24 and 25 September 2018, the drama production was performed respectively in Hoeko (Ladismith area) and in Dysselsdorp.  Approximately 216 households were reached through the initiative. Educators and community leaders were impressed by the informative messages that were conveyed. The actors demonstrated the relationship between good hygienic practices and health status towards a positive impact in community health and quality of life.

According to the organisers of the events, the initiative surely increased the self-esteem of community members, promoted health and hygiene awareness practices and empowered the community with knowledge, in order to take responsibility for their own health and life.

Mr Desmond Paulse, Manager Municipal Health: Klein Karoo (left) with the Peer Educators who performed in the drama production.

The drama production forms part of an ongoing health and hygiene education programme performed by the GRDM municipal health section.

World Environmental Health Day Celebrations

A highly successful event was held at the Thembalethu Community Hall, on Wednesday, 26 September 2018, in commemoration of Wold Environmental Health Day (WEHD), initiated by the International Federation of Environmental Health. This year marks the 7th celebration of the event in South Africa, in recognition of the need to improve environmental health to protect human health.

Cllr Khayalethu Lose, the Portfolio Chairperson of Community Services welcomed and thanked stakeholders for their attendance.

The theme for 2018 is “Global Food Safety and Sustainability”, aimed to support the provision of safer food, for people to make use of the precious water and nutrient resources and for communities to increasingly value sustainable food production, distribution and consumption.
After presentations, attendees were encouraged to ask questions and raised concerns.

Approximately 80 people, consisting of informal and formal food and meat traders, small farmers, caterers, crèche cooks and community members, from Thembalethu, were present at the interactive information session. The objectives of the event were to educate, share and discuss the legal requirements in the food industry as well as major threats to food safety, in particularly the incorrect handling of foodstuff; climate change; anti-microbial resistance; antibiotics in meat; food wastage and access to safe water and chemicals.

Mr Tony Dyers of the Veterinarian Service delivered an informative presentation on meat safety, followed by Dr Dyason of the Department of Agriculture, who shared facts about Rabies, the symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of the disease in animals.
The Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of the George Municipal Health Office furthermore enlightened attendees on counterfeit foodstuffs; “best before” dates and the five keys to safer food.
Similar celebrations were conducted in other areas within the Garden Route District, and according to the organisers of the event, the envisaged goals were achieved.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

Sale of fake foods

Public concern regarding the selling of “fake foods” compelled the National Department of Health to issue an urgent directive to investigate allegations made regarding the sale of food products, especially products not labelled in accordance with the REGULATIONS RELATING TO THE LABELLING AND ADVERTISING OF FOODSTUFFS, R146 OF 01 MARCH 2010.

According to Regulation 146:  

  • No person shall manufacture, import, sell or offer any pre-packed foodstuffs for sale, unless the foodstuff container or the bulk stock, from which it is taken, is labelled in accordance with these regulations.
  • No person shall import, manufacture, sell, distribute or donate foodstuffs, unless a date marking is clearly indicated on the label or container of such foodstuff.
  • The date shall be preceded by appropriate words “best before” and/or “use by” and/or “sell by”, depending on the nature of the product; Provided that bbreviations shall not be permitted, except “BB” for “best before”, but the preceding words shall be written out in full.
  • The date marking may not be removed or altered by any person.

During September 2018, the Garden Route District Municipality’s Municipal Health Section, in conjunction with the South African Police Services (SAPS) conducted successful operations at “Spaza Shops” in the Hessequa Region.

The purpose of these operations was to address the sale of food products which have reached their “sell by” and/or “use by” and/or “best before” dates, as well as products that were not labelled in English and/or one of the other official languages of the Republic of South Africa.

Inspections were conducted at eighty-one (81) “Spaza Shops” in Riversdale, Heidelberg and Albertinia collectively. During the operations, aspects regarding labelling and advertising of foodstuffs were explained to shop owners/managers, and  products which were not labelled in accordance with this Regulation, especially those with no labels, inappropriate language presentation and no “sell by” and/or “use by” and/or “best before” dates, were confiscated and condemned.

When products that have reached their “sell by” and/or “use by” and/or “best before dates were found, shop owners/managers ere given the option to either return the products to the manufacturer or voluntarily surrender it for condemnation.

It is important to understand that date marking, is a best practice in the food industry, helping to protect both food quality and food safety. When the “sell by” and/or “use by” and/or “best before” dates of a food product has been reached, the risk of microbiological deterioration increases, which result in an increased health risk to the public.

In light of these events, the Municipal Health Section of the Garden Route District Municipality has decided to increase its monitoring programmes at all food premises, and to create greater public awareness.

Municipal Health in George celebrated Mandela Day with clean-up operation

“100 Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018” celebrations

Officials from the Eden District Municipal Health office in George celebrated “Mandela Day” by means of a clean-up operation at the Molen River in Thembalethu, George.

This operation was carried out in collaboration with the following stakeholders: Breede-Gouritz Catchment Management Agency, DWS, Cape Nature, George Municipality (Waste Management & Expanded Public Works Programme) and a few community members of Thembalethu. Instead of 67 minutes, 100 minutes were devoted to the initiative as part of the “Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018” celebrations.

Eden DM Municipal Health in Hessequa visited Kruisrivier and Goedgegund Primary schools

“100 Nelson Mandela Centenary 2018” celebrations

The Eden District Municipal Health Office in Hessequa visited the Kruisrivier and Goedgegund Primary schools (rural schools) where the team donated pencil bags, water bottles and school clothes to the learners.

It is always heart-warming to see the smile on the face of a child. However, the team feels it is disappointing that they “can not reach out to communities in this way, on a regular basis”.