Cholera Season is here – Health Advisory
FG says “Together we can prevent deaths”
Cholera is an acute enteric infection characterized by vomiting, profuse dehydration and diarrhea (rice water stools).It is caused by ingestion of gram negative bacillus called Vibrio cholera. It is a major epidemic prone disease which poses serious public health problem in the country. It usually occurs every year with resultant high morbidity and mortality and considerable suffering among the affected individuals and communities.
Cholera is endemic in Nigeria, but often occurs in epidemic proportion from the end of dry season to the beginning of rainy season, when contaminants are washed into surface and underground water sources. Recently, in 2010, 1,555 people died from cholera in Nigeria according to UN figures, making it the worst case suffered since 1991, when 7,654 people died.
There is an unusual increase in the number of cases of Cholera due to pollution of the sources of drinking water by surface water run offs. Transmission of the disease is through the faeco-oral route.
Cholera outbreaks are life-threatening events which can spread through populations rapidly. When the bacteria are swallowed, they multiply in the human small intestine, causing diarrhea. The diarrhea stool contains huge numbers of these bacteria and if the stool contaminates the environmental water, the bacteria can then spread to the next person who drinks the contaminated water. Thus, the cycle continues from person to person by way of the fecal contamination of water. With each cycle, the numbers of infected people multiply as do the numbers of infectious bacteria in the environment.
How the Public can Prevent Cholera
- Report all sick persons with the above signs to the nearest health centre,
- Observe strict personal hygiene and envioronmental sanitation,
- Cover all food and food products
- Boil water before drinking,
- Boil unpasteurized milk before drinking,
- Avoid ice cubes in drinks, unless you are sure they were made from ‘safe water’! Note that Ice cream from doubtful sources may also be contaminated
- Prepare food properly and serve while still hot
- Avoid raw fish and shellfish
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating
- If possible avoid street vended food or ensure it is served when still hot
- Practice strict hand washing before food and after using the toilet
- Practice proper disposal of feces and dead bodies
How can State Authorities Prevent Cholera
States should place emphasis on sanitation, hygiene and community health education, employing the following key messages:
- Purify water (from commercial source by chlorination and household by boiling) before drinking.
- Proper hand washing after using the toilet and before food preparation and eating
- Good food handling /hygiene (Eat only foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot, or fruit that you have washed with clean water and peeled yourself).
- Avoid undercooked or raw food.
- Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors.
- Improve environmental sanitation.
Symptoms like frequent watery diarrhea and vomiting should be reported to the nearest health facility immediately.
The Federal Ministry of Health is creating necessary awareness and providing appropriate information and support to prevent the outbreak and spread of Cholera. The Federal Ministry of Health advises the general public and parents in particular to pay attention to the symptoms of Cholera and should go to their nearest health facility if they notice any of the common signs and symptoms.
A classic sign is watery diarrheal stool that looks like rice water, which is pale and flaky