Typhoid Not a Preserve for Downtown

Corporate Ugandans are wondering how they could have gotten typhoid. As far as they are concerned, water and juice sold in less sanitary downtown Kampala are responsible for typhoid.

So, how then could they have acquired typhoid without eating and drinking from downtown Kampala?

Because they could not understand this, corporate Uganda blamed National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). Their water must be contaminated, they said.

But National Water came out in various news reports saying their sufficiently-chlorinated water – chlorine kills germs – was safe (See The Observer, March 20: NWSC reassures on water safety)

The ministry of health was quoted saying, “water and fruit juices sold in polythene bags were the major causes of causes of typhoid and not water supplied by the national water utility.”

Even the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) affirmed that the 11 samples of NWSC water from Kampala that were tested had no faecal matter, E.coli or salmonella. With the ministry of health, NWSC and UNBS saying that NWSC water was safe, one wonders where affluent Ugandans, who say the only potentially unsafe water they use is tap water, got typhoid.

The answer lies in a fallacy in thinking. A number of Ugandans have limited typhoid to only being spread through drinking contaminated water. They do not know that practices such as eating contaminated food, eating food prepared by infected persons such as maids and unclean restaurant chefs and eating raw or undercooked food, puts them at risk of typhoid.

They also do not know that the unsanitary practices of others, practices such as improper excreta disposal methods, pit latrines contaminating the water table and failure to wash hands after a toilet visit, puts everyone at risk of disease and typhoid.

Some corporates also forget that disease knows no boundaries. If people downtown are engaging in unsanitary practices and they get typhoid or other diseases, then even the corporates are at risk. How?

EXCRETA DISPOSAL

Let’s look at how poor excreta disposal by some predisposes you, who exposes of excreta responsibly, to risk of typhoid. When contaminated stool is disposed of by the roadside, in gardens and compounds, it can run into water sources, putting users of those water sources at risk.

When some people get infected by the contaminated water, even the affluent are at risk of infection. This is because their cook could be infected. Additionally, animals such as chicken, feed on excreta found in the open.

“Chickens do not suffer from typhoid. When human beings eat the contaminated undercooked chicken, however, they can suffer from typhoid,” Dr Vincent Karuhanga of Friends Polyclinic says.

If raw eggs of a contaminated chicken are eaten too, they put the eater at risk of typhoid. Undercooked meats such as pork and raw milk also put their consumers at risk of typhoid. Pigs, just like chicken, eat excreta and they could get contaminated.

To reduce risk of catching typhoid, cook your foods well. Dr Diana Nasike has previously said that cooking kills salmonella typhi. Remember not to scorch the eggs, though, as they lose some of their protein when overcooked.

TYPHOID MARYS

A cook who is unhygienic but touches your food, predisposes you to typhoid. Uncooked food such as salads and fruits are especially a good transmission route of typhoid.

Karuhanga defines Typhoid Marys as individuals who get infected with and become chronic carriers of salmonella typhi. These become responsible for new outbreaks.

“If a Typhoid Mary works in a restaurant, the people she cooks for are susceptible to acquiring typhoid,” Karuhanga says.

PIT LATRINES

Pit latrines that contaminate the water table put users of the contaminated water at risk of typhoid. If some people have typhoid, then you too are at risk because they may infect someone you know who will in turn infect you.

USING COMMUNAL SOAP TABLETS OR NOT USING SOAP AT ALL

Washing hands helps to remove germs. Washing hands with soap even works better at removing germs. Washing hands with communal soap might be detrimental, however, as wet soap is ripe breeding ground for germs. Wet soap used by many could get contaminated. Liquid soap might be a better alternative.

USING COMMUNAL TOWELS AND TOILET PAPER

These can be contaminated through being touched or used by an infected person. Using a handkerchief to dry your hands can help prevent germs from spreading to you.

But other than other people predisposing you to typhoid, there are actions that you engage in that put you at risk too:

Failure to wash your hands with running water for at least 30 seconds: Hand washing removes germs, even typhoid-causing ones. Using running water is aised as scooping water from a basin over and over could contaminate the water. A notice at Victoria University Health Centre says you should wash your hands up to the wrists.

Using communal water: Scooping water out of a basin that others have used means you could be using contaminated water.

Adding ice to contaminated drinks: Karuhanga says that ice preserves germs. Cooking, on the other hand, kills germs.

Wearing long nails and nail polish: It might be hard to wash under long nails to flush out germs. Some nail polish wearers also do not wash their hands often, for fear of destroying their pretty nails.

Source : The Observer

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