Some diseases are simply embarrassing on account of what causes them and typhoid, is; a god-damned dirty disease that can be avoided by keeping the highest level of personal hygiene and avoiding consuming compromised food stuffs.
According to basic medical literature, typhoid fever is an acute illness caused by a bacterium from a group called Salmonella.
The main type that causes human disease is called Salmonella typhi although its cousin Salmonella paratyphi has been linked to a few cases that are usually less severe. Both rascals like to hide in human waste.
Now here is what makes typhoid such a shabby and embarrassing disease; according doctors, it is transmitted through eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with faeces deposited by a sick human carrier who then spreads it to other people in the area.
Apparently, that’s what has been happening in our neighborhood, Kampala. Uganda’s health Ministry says the disease broke out in February and has so far claimed a handful of lives leaving about 2000 people ill.
The story hasn’t been paid much attention in Kigali in spite of many a Rwandan having several relatives in there.
Given that its causes are related to poor levels of hygiene mainly dirty drinking water, the American Centre for Disease Control (CDC) claims that typhoid is a burden for mainly developing countries where at least 21 million people are affected every year.
In fact, citizens of the United States travelling overseas are always warned of typhoid mainly because the 5,700 cases that are reported there annually are allegedly contracted by those that travelled abroad; so, a disease of the dirty and poor?
Dirty because World Health Organisation (WHO) has attributed Uganda’s outbreak to people consuming contaminated water and juices; poor because those infected have been found to be the lower income residents of Kampala aged between 20 and 39 years.
If you have been to Kampala you will have noticed something; food and drink everywhere, making Kampala the perfect place for someone with a high appetite. But it’s also a place for people with bad eating habits, people who have no problem eating anything from anywhere and littering stuff about.
From taxi parks to markets and streets, there’s food everywhere in Kampala, it’s definitely the last place for one to starve but probably also the first place to fall sick.
That’s because most of the street food is prepared using dirty water. This dirty water is also served in form of juice, fruit salads that have been washed with the contaminated water to mention but those.
Quite telling is the list of Kampala suburbs where the disease is raging, Nakasero Market, New Taxi Park, Qualicel and Total petrol station on Namirembe Road; these are some of the busiest trading centres in Kampala.
The traders there, because they’re too busy tending to their shops, buy food and juice for breakfast and lunch from restaurant agents; you wouldn’t want to see the sorry state of hygiene where their food is prepared.
Reports by the Uganda health ministry have it that the disease has mostly struck residents of Kibuli, Namungoona, Lugoba, Kanyogoga, Bulenga and Nateete, all Kampala suburbs although as you read this, all divisions of Kampala have been affected.
Now, no offense if you have previously suffered from typhoid; I have. Once, many years ago when I was an impatient kid in lower primary school, we would pick and eat fruits straight from the orchard without properly washing them.
That’s forgivable. We were kids. We were stupid. But when you start getting typhoid as an adult, then know there’s a problem, a problem that may not necessary be of your own making.
East African urban populations are growing faster than the cities themselves resulting in crowded and unplanned cities with no proper sanitation infrastructure creating a time bomb for one of those shabby diseases, cholera or typhoid.
According to a WHO report released a few days ago, Kampala’s nationally supplied water is contaminated with some of the elements that cause typhoid explaining why its spread was fast.
But how safe is our city of Kigali from such an outbreak? Reference is made to The New Times story published on Friday that exposed the underbelly of Kigali’s hangouts, if you read it; you then know that we are possibly bouncing on a typhoid time bomb.
Kigali’s streets are way cleaner than the kitchens of most city restaurants where we dine; every major hotel in this town has its own sewage bank as city authorities struggle to put in a place a central sewage system. This is a risk.
For now, wash your hands before eating. Boil all your drinking water. And ensure proper disposal of all human waste in your vicinity.