Cholera is a disease characterized by acute and possibly severe diarrhea; it is caused by the ingestion of the bacterium Vibro Cholerae. It has been announced that an outbreak has occurred in Kaduna with several cases reported in secondary schools and several other villages in Plateau and Nasarawa states.
It is important to know how to avoid contracting the disease and the immediate treatment for those who are already exhibiting the symptoms.
How can you get cholera?
Cholera is contracted when the fecal matter of an infected person is ingested. Fecal matter get into the water system of most places where there is poor water supply and thus increases the chances of spreading the disease. In places where people defecate in water or the sewage system lead into the water supply, cholera is spread faster. However, casual contact such as holding hands, or hugging infected persons will not transfer the disease to you.
How can you identify Cholera?
Cholera is characterized by watery diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps. In most cases, the symptoms are mild but rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock in severe cases. Health experts say a lot of the symptoms of cholera overlap with the symptoms of the other forms of gastroenteritis, like vomiting and nausea and abdominal pain. But what really sets cholera apart is the severe dehydration and diarrhea.
How can you avoid getting cholera?
- Drink only bottled, boiled or chemically treated water.
- Avoid taking locally made drinks like Zobo and Kunu especially if you cannot trust the source of water.
- When taking bottled drinks, ensure that the seal is not broken.
- To disinfect your water, boil for 1 minute and filter the water. You can also treat the water with Chlorine or Iodine. Use the treated water to wash dishes, brush your mouth and prepare food.
- Wash your hands often with soap and clean water especially before you eat or prepare food and after using the toilet. Alcohol based hand sanitizers can be used in the absence of water and soap.
- Eat properly cooked meals and served hot
- Dispose of feces in a sanitary manner to prevent contamination of water and food
How can you treat Cholera?
Cholera can simply and effectively be treated by immediate replacement of fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients can be treated with oral re-hydration solution (ORS), a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with 1 liter of water and drunk in large amounts. If ORS is not readily available, drinking a solution of salts and sugar would help replenish the lost nutrients. If your baby exhibits symptoms of Cholera, continue breastfeeding buy seek medical attention promptly.
Antibiotics can be used to diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as receiving re-hydration. Patients who develop severe diarrhea and vomiting should seek medical attention immediately.