Cholera Outbreak: What To Look Out For

7 July 2017 Health News

Cholera is an acute diarrhea disease that can kill within 24 – 48 hours if left untreated. It is one of the major cause of death worldwide and African in particular due to poor hygiene practices and unclean environment. Researchers have estimated that each year there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera.

Dr. Isah Yahaya Vatsa, Head, Policy and Strategy,  at Primary Health Care Board FCT – Abuja, while speaking during an interview on the program “Health Friendly, said the bacteria that causes cholera enters through the mouth into the intestine and produces a toxin which causes a lot of havoc within the system by collecting fluid from the body into the intestinal gut.

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The expert maintained that cholera is a disease of developing countries with poor sanitation.  Cholera is often spread through food, faeces and other faecal materials “It’s spreads from one human being to another, the bacterial comes from an infected person to  an uninfected person through faecal matters and other related contaminants from human beings.” He said.

“Food materials, particularly water related materials that contain the bacterial, once it is ingested, multiplies within the gut and produces the toxin. Once the toxin is produced, it triggers the versal system of water collection.”

“Usually when you drink water, it absorbed into your system but once this toxin is in the gut, it does not allow absorption of water any longer, in fact, it collect the water from the body into the gut which it passes out like stool, that is why people pass watering stool when they have diarrhea.”

The Doctor condemned open air defecation in strong terms. “Open air defecation is a disaster, it’s a bomb shell and must be avoided because once there is rain fall, it flows into rivers, ponds and when children, even adults come in contact with the water, cholera begins to spread. And its not only cholera, other water bone diseases can also be contracted through those means.” He said

The bacterial can also enter by eating seafood that is raw or not completely cooked, in particular shellfish native to estuary environments, such as oysters or crabs.

Poorly cleaned vegetables irrigated by contaminated water sources are another common source of infection.

In situations where sanitation is severely challenged, such as in refugee camps or communities with highly limited water resources, a single affected victim can contaminate all the water for an entire population

The expert said that environmental sanitation and personal hygiene are the major ways in which we can prevent diarrhea. 

Some simple measures that can reduce the risk of contracting cholera are:-

  • Hand washing is important to prevent the spread of disease.
  • When traveling in areas where the disease is endemic, it is important to eat only fruit you have peeled.
  • Avoid salads, raw fish, and uncooked vegetables.
  • Ensure that food is thoroughly cooked.
  • Make sure water is bottled or boiled and safe to consume
  • Avoid street food, as this can carry cholera and other diseases

 He advised that individuals should seek medical attention immediately if they experience symptoms such as leg cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea while in a community where the disease exists. 

For more on the program listen to the audio below: 

Producers of the program Health Friendly:

Joan Kershima

Julia Oyetoke

Victoria Gaji

Louis Eseni

Hauwa Mohammed


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