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29 January 2024 Media Release: Cholera:  A disease nobody should die from

Media Release: Cholera:  A disease nobody should die from

For immediate release
29 January 2024

As of 15 January 2024, the Cholera outbreak has affected various countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with more than 200 000 positive cases and 3000 deaths reported. Since the start of the outbreak in Zimbabwe during February 2023, more than eighteen thousand (18 000) cases were reported, with seventy-one (71) confirmed deaths and more than three hundred (300) suspected deaths.

South Africa is on high alert after two cases of cholera were reported in the Limpopo province. Both are suspected to be imported cases.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is a diarrhoeal infection/disease caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae. The disease can cause large outbreaks and epidemics. An epidemic is a sudden outbreak of disease that affects a large number of people in a particular region, community, or population in a short period.

Cholera outbreaks are usually associated with unsafe water sources, and poor sanitation and hygiene infrastructures, thus affecting those living in informal settlements or in displacement camps.

Symptoms of Cholera

The infection is usually mild or without symptoms, but it can be severe and life-threatening. In severe cases, an infected person will experience severe symptoms, which include:

  • profuse watery diarrhoea, sometimes described as “rice-water stools”
  • vomiting
  • thirst
  • leg cramps
  • restlessness or irritability
  • An infected person can also develop severe dehydration which, if left untreated can lead to kidney failure, shock, coma, and ultimately death. During this period, the stools contain large amounts of the bacterium which increase the risk of transmission.

How is Cholera transmitted?

The mode of transmission for cholera is usually water contaminated with human faeces from an infected person, which can either have a direct route (drinking contaminated water) or an indirect route (eating contaminated food).

Important to remember:

  • Water can be contaminated at the source, during storage or use.
  • Food products can be contaminated when washed or rinsed off in contaminated water or fertilised with human faeces.
  • The bacteria can also be transmitted by soiled hands to water or food. Person-to-person spread is not common but can happen in rare cases.
  • Fish, especially shellfish harvested from contaminated water sources and eaten raw or not cooked properly, can also pose a serious risk.

What is the incubation period?

The incubation period refers to the period from when a person ingests water/food contaminated with the cholera bacterium to when they first become ill.

The incubation period for cholera ranges from a few hours to 5 days (usually 2 – 3 days). The incubation period of cholera is short, therefore any delays in implementing relevant control measures, as well as the provision of proper water and sanitation services can result in explosive outbreaks.

How to prevent Cholera

The most important aspects to minimise and prevent the spread of cholera are as follows.

  • Use safe water for drinking and household purposes.
  • Wash hands on a regular basis using soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect toilets before use. If there is no access to toilet facilities, do not defecate close to or in water sources and bury your faeces.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables with safe water, but if not possible, peel it.
  • Do not eat raw seafood sourced from contaminated water sources.

As part of the Cholera Prevention and Control Programme, Garden Route District Municipality is constantly conducting Moore pad sampling of the water sources across the district. Furthermore, health and hygiene education programmes will be conducted in the various regions.  Public awareness is also paramount in minimising the spread and the prevention and control of communicable diseases; therefore, it is important that the organisation utilises its local media platforms to educate the public regarding diseases such as cholera.

Did you know?

  • A Moore pad is multiple layers of surgical gauze connected to a piece of string or wire to allow the pad to be fixed in a flowing stream of sewage or water. The pad is left in the water stream for a period of 24-72 hours to “filter” microorganisms. Thereafter, the pad is immersed in double strength alkaline-peptone broth and submitted to the laboratory for analysis.

The following methods can be used to treat the water that we use on a daily basis for drinking and household purposes, by:

Boiling the water?

  1. Filter the water using a clean cloth or towel if it was collected from a river or stream. This is to remove soil, leaves or any other large particles from the water.
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 1 – 3 minutes. Boiling kills the pathogens in the water.
  3. Allow the water to cool down and store in containers with close fitting lids.

Disinfect water using household bleach

Important: When using household bleach make sure that it has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of at least 6% – 8.25% (See the label of the product for details).

  1. Use a clean bottle or container to disinfect the water.
  2. Filter the water, by using a clean cloth or towel to remove any visible dirt or particles.
  3. Use the following measuring instructions for the addition of bleach to water.

[5ml bleach to 20 litres of water] – 5ml of bleach = 100 drops (using a medicine dropper)

Therefore: 20 drops to 4litre water

                   10 drops to 2litre water

  1. Mix the water well and let it stand for 30 minutes (Water should have a slight chlorine smell, if not add the same amount of bleach to the water and let it stand for 2 hours.

For more information or report any related symptoms, contact the following GRDM offices within the Garden Route:

Region Person in Charge Contact Number Address
Klein Karoo Region & Kannaland Region Desmond Paulse
Manager: Municipal Health (Klein Karoo)
Tel: 044 272 2241 / Cell: 083 678 6530 Address: 94 St John Street, Oudtshoorn
Mossel Bay Monique Anthony
Acting Chief Municipal Health
Tell: 044 693 0006 /
Cell: 061 445 1932
C/O Sampson & Marling Street, Ext 23, Mossel Bay.
George Outeniqua Emmy Douglas
Chief: Municipal Health (Outeniqua)
Tel: 044 803 1501 / Cell: 078 457 2824 Mission Street, Industrial Area, George, 6530


Khanyisa Shoto
Acting Chief: Municipal Health
Tel: 044 803 1599 / Cell:071 883 6335 Mission Street, Industrial Area, George, 6530
Knysna Region James McCarthy
Chief: Knysna
Tel: 044 382 7214 /
Cell: 082 805 9417
26A Queen Street, Knysna


Bitou Region Gawie Vos
Chief: Lakes (Bitou)
Tell: 044 501 1600 / Cell: 083 557 1522 4 Virginia Street, Plettenberg Bay, 6600
Hessequa Region Haemish Herwels Chief: Hessequa Tel: 028 713 2438 / Cell: 083 678 6545 24 Michell Street, Riversdale, 6670
Johan Compion
Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services
Tel: 044 803 1300 / Cell: 082 803 5161