PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY ON CHOLERA
5 TIPS FOR PREVENTION
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) issues this public health advisory to members of the general public to increase awareness of risk associated with cholera, the signs, symptoms and management of the disease to enable everyone take appropriate precautions.
WHAT IS CHOLERA?
Cholera is a highly contagious disease that causes profuse diarrhoea in children and adults which if left untreated can lead to death within hours. There is usually an increase in the number of cholera cases during the rainy season, mainly between April and September. This is primarily as a result of surface run-offs where contaminated faeces are washed into water bodies which are used as water sources. Cholera which is caused by the germ Vibrio cholerae, is spread by ingestion of contaminated food and water. The disease is common in overcrowded environments (e.g. urban slums and camps for internally displaced people or refugees), areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices, lack of potable water, and open defecation.
Cholera is characterised by sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhoea, which can lead to sudden death as a result of dehydration, if not managed on time. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and weakness. Most infected people may only show mild symptoms or have no symptom at all.
Cholera is an easily treatable disease, if detected early. Most infected people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS), with the goal to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. The ORS solution is available as a powder that can be reconstituted in boiled or bottled water. Without rehydration, approximately half the people with cholera die. With treatment, the number of fatalities drops to less than 1 percent. Severely dehydrated people may also need intravenous fluids.
5 PREVENTION TIPS
To reduce the spread of cholera, the NCDC advises that precautionary measures should be taken, and offers the following five priority actions for Nigerians to follow:
1. Ensure that water is boiled and stored in a clean and safe container before drinking. Ensure that the seals of bottled water are in place
2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean running water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and clean water are not available
3. Ensure that food is well cooked before consumption. Avoid raw food such as fruits and vegetables, except you have washed them in safe water or peeled them yourself.
4. Avoid open defecation, indiscriminate refuse dumping and ensure proper disposal of waste and frequent clearing of sewage
5. If you experience sudden watery diarrhoea, please do not self-medicate, visit a health care facility immediately and take all sick persons with the signs or symptoms above to a health care facility immediately
NCDC and its partners, especially the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and Médecin Sans Frontières (MSF) will continue to support the response to cholera. We advise an increased focus on the provision of potable water, adequate sanitation and institution of good hygiene practices (WaSH). States are encouraged to ensure early reporting of suspected cases, adequate preparedness including provision of WaSH facilities, medical supplies, and institution of appropriate management of cases.