Diarrhoea deaths probed

South Africa
FILE: Thirty babies in Durban died in the past two months after a diarrhoea outbreak. Picture:

Durban - A diarrhoea outbreak in Durban which has caused the deaths of 30 babies is being investigated.

On Wednesday, communicable disease services head Dr Ayo Olowolagba said the investigation by the eThekwini municipality would seek to determine whether the outbreak was caused by the rotavirus or something else.

The 30 babies died in the past two months.

More than 1000 cases were reported in May and June, and the areas most affected were Inanda, Ntuzuma, uMlazi, Amoati, Mayville and uMbumbulu.

Olowolagba said the situation was stabilising because of campaigns conducted in communities, hospitals and clinics, educating people about diarrhoea.

Water had been ruled out as the cause and rotavirus, which was related to poor hygiene, had been cited as a possible cause.

National Laboratory Service spokesman Shabir Madhi said in a statement that 242 specimens were received from hospitals and clinics in the eThekwini municipality in June, with 55 percent of diarrhoea cases caused by rotavirus.

"Rotavirus causes mild to severe diarrhoea in young children and tends to be more common during the colder, drier months of the year," Madhi said.

Olowolagba said some of the babies that had diarrhoea had been vaccinated against rotavirus.

"Vaccination against rotavirus does not guarantee that a child will not get infected with diarrhoea, as the vaccine is 77 percent effective," he said.

-Sapa

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