A week ago I posted an article titled Of Someone Else’s problem, about how we tend to turn a blind eye to problems until they fester into something affecting everyone, and made a brief mention of the poor service delivery in the sanitation and waste disposal department……. Now here we are its our problem now.
The government has declared a cholera outbreak in Harare, Zimbabwe a state of emergency due to the rising number of cholera infections; over 2300 recorded cases and the death of 20 people since the beginning of September. When your house is burning its not the time to find out who started the fire, first thing is to put out the fire. The last time we had a cholera outbreak 4000 people died, 2008 was a really bad year.
because Knowledge may save a life:
What is cholera?
Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine by the bacteria Vibrio cholera.
The cholera bacterium is found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by faecal matter from a person infected with cholera. Cholera is mostly found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene.
Cholera can be life-threatening, with death resulting in hours if untreated but it is easily prevented and treated
Symptoms of Cholera
- profuse watery diarrhoea, described as “rice-water stools,”
- rapid heart rate
- loss of skin elasticity (when you pinch skin it stays bunched up)
- dry mucous membranes
- low blood pressure
- rapid weight loss
- muscle cramps
- restlessness or irritability
**Symptoms typically appear in 2-3 days after infection.
The diarrhoea and vomiting cause rapid loss of body fluids leading to dehydration, severe electrolyte imbalance and shock. Untreated, severe dehydration can rapidly lead to shock and death in hours.
Death by Cholera is due to severe dehydration, rehydration will save a life. Once symptoms detected, immediately start taking an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) while you seek out medical attention. Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluid and salts lost through diarrhoea. Severe cases may require intravenous fluid replacement.
Antibiotics shorten the course and diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as receiving re-hydration. 80% of cholera cases can be treated simply by rehydrating
How to make your own ORS at home:
- 1 litre clean water (boiled to be sure)
- 6 level teaspoons sugar
- Half level spoon salt
- Stir till it dissolves
Mild and moderate cases can be effectively treated simply by taking this ORS drink 3l a day
*even simply having sips of safe plain can help with the hydration while you seek medical attention
Infected persons, when treated rapidly, can recover quickly, and there are typically no long term consequences. Persons with cholera do not become carriers of the disease after they recover, but can be reinfected if exposed again.
- Drink water only from trusted sources. bottled, boiled, or treated water and bottled. When using bottled drinks, make sure that the seal has not been broken.
- To disinfect your own water: boil or and add 2 drops of household bleach/Chlorine (Jik®) or water purification tablets.
- Disinfect minicipal tap water
- Wash your hands often with soap and clean water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner, especially before you eat or prepare food and after using the bathroom.
- If no soap is available, use ash.
- Use bottled, boiled, or treated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food and rinse fruit and vegetables
- Eat foods that are packaged or that are freshly cooked and served hot.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meats or raw or undercooked fruits and vegetables unless they are peeled.
- Dispose of waste in a sanitary manner to prevent contamination of water and food sources.
- Avoid shaking of hands
*No cholera vaccine is 100% protective and vaccination against cholera is not a substitute for standard prevention and control measures, including precautions for food and water as outlined above.
Prevention of cholera is dependent on access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and basic hygiene needs.
If you have any other tips and helpful knowledge do share in the comments below
Day ten of my Blog Every Day Challenge Themed Africa: Stories from Home.
According to statistics from Ministry of Health and Child Care, cholera deaths since the beginning of the month are now at 25 and 3 766 cases reported.