GEORGE NEWS - The Southern Cape Old Car Club 2018 Ford Veteran and Vintage Tour took a highly unpleasant turn when a dozen or more participants suffered stomach ailments during and after their visit to Oudtshoorn.
The tour took place from 6 to 9 February and Oudtshoorn was the base for its duration.
One of the club's founding members, George resident Jack Boshoff (80), was admitted to the Mediclinic George for the second time on Friday 16 February, with severe dehydration, an after-effect of his diarrhoea.
Water quality samples
Oudtshoorn's water quality briefly came under scrutiny after water samples showed a bacterial presence.
During the club's visit, a water sample taken on 7 February at Oudtshoorn's Kerk Street reservoirs showed there was a 360 cfu/100ml E. coli presence.
Johan Uys, manager of the Klein Karoo water scheme and bulk water supply, said the other four reservoirs' samples had a nil E. coli count.
The Kerk Street reservoir was treated with chlorine and a sample taken on 13 February showed an absence of any E. coli bacteria.
Uys quoted from a 15 February newspaper report that said Oudtshoorn's general practitioners doubted that a large number of people reportedly suffering from stomach ailments could be linked to the bacteria found in the reservoir.
In his written comment, Uys quoted from the newspaper report: "According to doctors, a stomach virus was thought to be the cause of the stomach ailment.
"A doctor at a lab in George said he could not find bacterial growth in stool samples sent for analysis."
The South Cape 2018 Ford Veteran and Vintage Tour took an unhappy turn when a dozen or more of their members became ill. Philip Kuschke and his wife were in a merry mood at the George start of the tour through the Klein Karoo, but very much regret the illness that befell other tour members.
No purification plant
Uys said that Oudtshoorn does not have a water purification plant and water is treated with chlorine inside the reservoirs.
"The debris washed into the reservoirs after the heavy downpour on Wednesday 14 February caused the water to be murky," he added.
Residents were warned to boil their water after the chlorination of this water had proved to be ineffective. These measures are still applicable at present, said Uys.
A George resident and retired microbiologist, Phillip Rosser, who is also a committee member of the Southern Cape Old Car Club (SCOCC), said he was very disappointed at being unable to attend the highlight of the year - the George Old Car Club's annual show which attracted 13 000 people this year.
Susan Alexander was taken ill with diarrhoea and SCOCC chairman Danie Schmidt and a paramedic working on the AMS Red Cross helicopter also contracted a stomach ailment during the week of 9 February.
George resident Pieter Boshoff said it was the first time that he came down with a stomach bug. "The temperature of 48 degrees Celsius in Oudtshoorn undoubtedly played a role. My father (Jack) is now fully recovered after being treated for diarrhoea, but during his treatment they found an unrelated lung complaint and he is being kept in hospital."
Bad for tourism
Rosser made his dismay with Uys's feedback report very clear. "It is shocking, to say the least.
"They admit once again that the water was indeed contaminated. The majority of our tour members that became ill did not, in any case, go to the doctor, so the comment from a doctor on the stool analysis of the patients is therefore not representative of what took place in Oudtshoorn that week."
Chairman of the tour's organising committee, Philip Kuschke, said the incident is not good for tourism.
"It can't be shrugged off. We had tour participants from Canada, Germany and England who became very ill."
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