The city of Cape Town has stepped up its vigilance for diarrhoea cases among children as warm temperatures in the Western Cape rise.
The city said the time period between November and May is diarrhoea surge season, as it coincides with an increase in the number of diarrhoea cases because warmer temperatures help spread germs.
The city’s Mayoral Committee member for safety, security and social services Alderman JP Smith said children under the age of five were particularly vulnerable, with a high number of fatalities still experienced in developing countries in spite of the fact that diarrhoea is both preventable and self-limiting if hydration is maintained when it occurs.
“The number of diarrhoea cases recorded during November has been 2 100 as compared to other seasons with 2 071. During the same period, there were 21 cases with severe dehydration and 37 cases with moderate dehydration,” Smith said.
The city has implemented a number of intervention methods as part of its diarrhoea prevention programme, which include providing vitamin A supplements to children from six months, giving zinc supplements to children, training clinic staff, especially in emergency dehydration techniques, among others.
“The important thing is for caregivers to be vigilant and look out for early signs of diarrhoea and know what to do.
“Health workers can only assist when a child is brought in to the clinic, so we rely heavily on parents, families and caregivers to act quickly before signs of dehydration present themselves and to be mindful of the do’s and don’ts.
“A critical aspect is ensuring that hands are kept clean, particularly when handling food, to minimise the spread of germs.”