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Bilharzia outbreak under control

CHAKALISA DUBE
Dr Gobezie Solomon
FRANCISTOWN: Health authorities have indicated that the recent bilharzia outbreak is under control.

Dr Gobezie Solomon, who is the coordinator of the District Health Management Team (DHMT) of Greater Francistown, revealed this on Tuesday during a special full council meeting.

He was giving an update on the progress reached in containing the disease. The disease is not deadly but can be fatal in some instances if left untreated. It can also cause acute and chronic complications.

Kidney and bladder complications as well as occasional liver diseases are among the main effects caused by bilharzia at its later stages. 

The first case (in the recent outbreak) of bilharzia was recorded on May 10 this year at Boikhutso Clinic.

Out of 579 samples taken between May and June, 42 pupils tested positive for bilharzia and were accordingly treated. Solomon said all the 42 cases were registered at Maradu Primary School.

“When we interviewed the affected pupils after the outbreak they revealed that they had gone for swimming at the stagnant shallow pools along the Tati River,” said Solomon.  The 579 pupils were exposed to swimming. They were from Maradu and Satellite primary school as well as Selepa Junior Secondary School.

Bilharzia is also one of the rare diseases in the country. The previous record of bilharzia

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in the country was in 2013.

“The district currently has enough tablets to treat those who are sick. We managed to secure enough drugs from Princess Marina Hospital, Selebi-Phikwe DHMT and we have also been informed that the Central Medical Stores (CMS) has 3,740 tablets in stock.

We can go on mass treatment if the prevalence goes beyond 20%,” he said.

The prevalence rate of the disease currently stands at six percent and is still a public health concern according to Solomon.

The Area W Clinic as well as an entomology mobile laboratory have been availed to conduct testing for the disease.

Since the schools were closed last week, Solomon indicated that they have reminded parents to take their children to the nearest health facilities for further treating and testing.  He further said pupils at Satellite and Maradu as well as students in Selepa were sensitised about the disease immediately after its outbreak.

“We also held meetings with parents and teachers at Maradu and Satellite to educate them about the disease,” he said.

Meanwhile Francistown mayor Sylvia Muzila has urged churches not to baptise their members using water from the river because they risk catching diseases such as bilharzia.



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