In a follow-up to a report earlier this week, the typhoid fever “non-outbreak” in South Africa has grown in Gauteng province and now cases are being reported from Western Cape.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

Gauteng Health officials reported two additional typhoid cases, bringing the number of infected people to six. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) expects the case count to grow: “We would not be surprised to pick up a few more cases over the next few weeks.”

One patient died from the bacterial disease.

In addition, two children and one adult have been diagnosed with typhoid fever in Western Cape. The first case was identified on 10 January and the latest one on 20 January and some cases have a travel history to Zimbabwe where the capital of Harare is also experiencing an increase in cases.

Harare City Health Director, Dr Prosper Chonzi, revealed that six cases of the disease had been reported in the last week. The cases have been linked to contaminated food.

More than 30 cases of the disease in an area would constitute an outbreak, and city health officials are apparently working to stem further spread.

Typhoid fever, caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, is a life-threatening bacterial infection. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 21 million people annually.

Salmonella typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S.typhi in their feces.

You can get typhoid fever if you eat foodor drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.

Typhoid fever can be successfully treated with appropriate antibiotics, and persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days.

Learn more about typhoid fever in this educational video