Wednesday, September 20, 2006

New TB strain spreads into the Free State

By Tando Mfengwana
20 September 2006


Six miners from Harmony Gold and Gold Field mines in the Free State were diagnosed with the extremely drug resistant Tuberculosis (XDR-TB).

Business report quotes the Chief Executive of Harmony mines Bernard Swanepoel, as saying that a company doctor confirmed a single case of tuberculosis that was highly resistant to drugs.

Reports said yesterday that Gela Naude, the spokesperson for the Provincial Department of Health in the Free State, said that the miners were kept in isolation at the Ernest Oppenheimer hospital and will be moved to the provincial isolation unit within the next few weeks.

National Union of Mine workers delegate at Harmony Gold mines, Mhlupheki Mira said that shop steward at the St Helena Hospital in Welkom confirmed three miners were in isolation after it was establish that they had contracted the TB strain.

The report says that Gold Fields spokesperson Willie Jacobzs said the company had identified employees with the TB, but this is not the drug resistant Tb strain.

Between 2005 and March 2006, about 63 cases of the drug resistant TB had been identified in the KwaZulu Natal Province, with 60 fatalities.

iafrica.com reports that the KZN Premier S’bu Ndebele, is satisfied by the progress that the province has made in responding to TB.

Meanwhile the KwaZulu Natal Health Department is expanding treatment for the strain to all districts; it has also started active surveillance for the disease in the Msinga Area.

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