All indications point to a sharp increase in Typhoid cases at Namawala village. Typhoid is transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces from an infected person. To learn more about typhoid check the link:
In actual fact the well water sample picture in the previous Namawala blog is no doubt contaminated with Typhoid. The owner of the well runs a guest house and he was in Ifakara today. He fell very ill on the weekend and had the money and resources available to travel to the Ifakara hospital to get checked out. He was diagnosed with typhoid and is feeling a lot better today after receiving the correct medication.
Actually, I hate to say it, but he had it coming. He built a "super" deep septage pit to around the same depth of his water well. The water well and septage pit are less than 15m from eachother. The septage pit is lined with bricks on the sides to prevent it collapsing, but is open at the bottom. With a rising water table the deep "shit" pit fills, mixing with the water like cordial. Basically, he has been drawing up "shit" water for a while now. To make it worse the guest house sees a rotation of people, hence a higher liklihood of somebody contaminating the septage pit with the Typhoid bacteria.
Now I cant say I didnt warn this guy way back in September last year. But it was not until I saw him today that I am (fairly) certain that he will put in a concrete floor into his septage pit to stop the mixing. Further, his "shit" pit is contaminating the entire shallow water table and will impact on other people in the area, some of whom probably dont have the money to travel to Ifakara for treatment.
In my opinion these issues rarely get heard outside the village. Most people suffer at home or get patched up at the local clinic. Often Typhoid is mis-diagnosed for malaria. Reporting of these type of illnesses at the village level is poor. Even so, I have someone visiting the clinic tomorrow to try and get some idea of the numbers.
The guest house owner is not an isolated case. Im told there are a lot of people falling ill right now. I will look at interim emergency measures we can implement when I visit the villages this week.
I will travel on Wednesday and return on Saturday. I will be assessing the Typhoid outbreak, doing a well survey, conducting job interviews and meeting with council leaders.
The contaminated well discussed above. I actually took this picture 1 week ago as an example of what not to do. You can see the septage pit on the far corner of the building, about 10m away. The guest house owner believed he was being business smart by digging a septage pit so deep that he would never have to build another one. He is running a small guest house (where I stay for $3 a night), so he wanted a "business" sized septage pit. What he didn't bargain for was that his business smarts might put him in hospital! He has 1 bag of cement sitting in his office for patching up holes to stop birds entering his roof. My bets are on the birds staying until and a certain hole gets a concrete bottom.