Water samples taken from the Vaal River at Parys have tested positive for cholera bacteria, Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum says.

The group said the water samples were taken at different locations in the town under the supervision of a water specialist.

Two of the samples tested negative for cholera but contained traces of E coli. The third sample, taken from the Vaal River, approximately 10 meters downstream from a manhole that has been pouring sewage into the river for some time, tested positive for cholera and E coli.

AfriForum said it was particularly concerned that the withdrawal point for Vredefort’s water is only 1km from the sewage spill. It is in Vredefort where there are also confirmed cases of cholera and where a resident died from the illness.

The group added that this information proved that the Vaal River was infected with cholera bacteria.

“There are several places where the raw sewage flows into the river due to infrastructure that is burnt out or is simply not available, load shedding and the fact that there is no emergency assistance such as generators or emergency pumps. The Department of Water and Sanitation must actively intervene and AfriForum is prepared to help. We told them that we are prepared to help but unfortunately have not received any feedback,” said Lambert de Klerk, AfriForum’s head of community safety.

The Department of Health’s director-general, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, said water samples were taken and results were still pending. Feedback would be provided as soon as the results were received.

Buthelezi informed the portfolio committee on health that the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation and the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality would compare water quality test results to identify affected sources.

The cholera outbreak in South Africa has so far claimed the lives of 22 people. The majority of cases have been reported in Gauteng, with a few cases also reported in the Free State and Limpopo.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea. It is spread through contaminated water or food. Symptoms of cholera include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps and dehydration. If left untreated, cholera can be fatal.

There is no specific treatment for cholera. The main treatment is to rehydrate the patient with oral rehydration solution or intravenous fluids. Antibiotics may also be given to kill the bacteria.

The best way to prevent cholera is to boil water before drinking it, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and avoid eating food that has been contaminated with feces.

By Power

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