It happens that the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only public health problem we have in Nigeria at the moment. Several cases of Cholera have been reported in Nigeria, especially in the northern region.
While a lot of us are guilty of not following the preventive protocols for COVID-19, Cholera can be easier to prevent yet more difficult to treat.
What’s the lowdown about Cholera
Cholera is a disease characterised by acute and possibly severe diarrhoea; this means those frequent visits to the toilet may be caused by something other than Iya Nkechi’s palm oil stew.
It is caused by the ingestion of a bacterium Vibro Cholerae (not like you need to know the name for sure). However, 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. That said, casual contact such as holding hands, or hugging infected persons will not transfer the disease to you.
How can you identify Cholera?
Cholera is characterised by watery diarrhoea, vomiting and leg cramps. In most cases, the symptoms are mild although 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 diarrhoea.
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 faeces 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 diarrhoea. Patients can be treated with oral re-hydration solution (ORS), a pre-packaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with one (1) litre 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.
Anti-biotics can be used to diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as receiving re-hydration. Patients who develop severe diarrhoea and vomiting should seek medical attention immediately.