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The Department of Correctional Services is investigating the source of the diphtheria outbreak at the Pollsmoor Correctional facility in Cape Town.
A 19-year-old detainee died nearly 10 days ago after testing positive for the highly contagious bacterial infection.
Eight other inmates have tested positive and are in isolation to prevent further spread.
Three correctional officers are also isolating at their homes.
The national commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale, says an epidemiological investigation is under way.
“The infrastructure that we have put in place to deal with outbreaks is of a capacity that can handle what we are dealing with now. I have gone through an operational visit, and I am confident that the number of beds we have there is actually enough for any eventuality if we are to experience new cases.”
DCS: Diphtheria outbreak under control at Pollsmoor Correctional Facility:
Diphtheria is an uncommon, but vaccine preventable serious infection caused by a toxin producing bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheria.
The toxin may lead to difficulty in breathing, heart rhythm problems, and even death. The bacteria spreads from person to person, usually through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.
The symptoms of diphtheria include sore throat (with the formation of a membrane on the tonsil and throat), and swollen glands in the front of the neck.