Case Report

Cholera and household water treatment why communities do not treat water after a cholera outbreak: a case study in Limpopo Province

Lutendo S. Mudau, Murembiwa S. Mukhola, Paul R. Hunter
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 32, No 1 | a60 | DOI: | © 2019 Lutendo S. Mudau, Murembiwa S. Mukhola, Paul R. Hunter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 May 2019 | Published: 31 March 2017

About the author(s)

Lutendo S. Mudau, Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom; Environmental Health Department, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Murembiwa S. Mukhola, Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
Paul R. Hunter, Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom

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Background: Cholera is one of the common diseases in developing countries caused by consumption of contaminated and untreated drinking water. A study was conducted 7 months after a cholera outbreak in Vhembe district, Limpopo, South Africa. The aim of the study was to assess if the communities were still conforming to safe water practices after an outbreak of cholera.

Methodology: One hundred and fifty-two (152) participants from 11 villages were recruited to form 21 focus groups, with a mean of 7. The interview transcripts were coded and arranged based on the study themes.

Results: Of the 21 groups in 11 villages, three villages were using water from boreholes, six were using river water and three were using mixed sources which included river, canal and spring water, three depended on municipal tanks and only six were using tap water. Only 19% of the respondents treated their water, even though the majority of communities reported treatment of water as a priority. Four villages claimed they never received environmental health education at all, while most of the villages confirmed they received education during a cholera outbreak.

Conclusion: Regardless of the outbreak and health education efforts done, communities continued using unprotected water sources without any form of treatment, as they perceived it to be unimportant. Sustainable water supplies and environmental health education should be continued after an outbreak as it is important for public health gains.


cholera outbreak; communication; drinking water; health education; household water; safe practices; water treatment


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