In the past few weeks, there have been reports of a cholera outbreak in Nigeria. This outbreak has been reported to have caused the death toll of up to 80 people in states such as Zamfara, Sokoto, Plateau and Lagos with more than 74 deaths recorded across the rest of the country.
To protect yourself from the disease, we explain what cholera is and how to ensure you are safe from it.
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that can kill a person within hours if left untreated. There are an estimated three to five million cholera cases and up to 120 000 deaths globally due to cholera every year.
The primary signs and symptoms of cholera are profuse and watery diarrhoea coupled with vomiting of clear fluid. The diarrhoea can be described as looking like “rice water” and has a fishy odour.
Because the diarrhoea and vomiting are occurring at the same time and in such large amounts, severe dehydration is a concern, and can cause death if left untreated. The average person suffering from cholera can release an average of 18 litres of fluid in the form of diarrhoea daily (that’s about 12 BIG bottles of bottled water).
Persons suffering from cholera have bluish grey skin, wrinkled hands, low blood pressure, sunken eyes, and a fast heart rate.
Cholera has an incubation period of two hours to five days. The source of the contamination is typically when the untreated diarrheal discharge of other cholera sufferers is allowed to get into waterways or drinking water supplies. Cholera is rarely spread directly from person to person. Persons living in “slums”, “ghettos”, refugee camps, and areas where basic hygiene and good sanitation are problems are at high risk.
Cholera infected persons can get fluids orally or via a drip in a hospital. Oral rehydration salts or Oral rehydration solutions (liquids) can be bought over the counter at pharmacies and used at home. Homemade oral rehydration solutions can also be made at home. Please see a guide here: http://bit.ly/19j3ZwP
To prevent infection, it is imperative that:
a. Good hygiene is practiced. Wash your hands often with soap and safe water b. You should keep your surroundings clean and cover your water supply. c. Ensure you drink only water that is boiled, filtered and or iodine treated. d. Don’t eat salad or raw fruits and vegetables that have been cleaned with untreated water. e. Don’t eat raw or undercooked fish or seafood and f. Finally, avoid street vendors (mama put, bukas etc.).