By David Mwaura
Death is the last thing anyone would opt for. Meanwhile, it is a rite of passage that everything that has life must go through. What causes death is what makes it to be different in different creatures like human beings. One of the main causes of death in people is disease.
There are various diseases that have been classified as the major killer diseases in people. Some of them include HIV/AIDs, cancer, and malaria among others. On the list is also cholera, which is a bacterial infection of the intestines. The disease has the capacity to kill within hours if not treated at an early stage.
Since December 2014, Kenya has been experiencing continuous large outbreaks of cholera, with a cumulative total of 17 597 cases reported (10 568 cases reported in 2015 and 6448 in 2016). This year, cholera outbreak was active in Nairobi and Garissa County. From January 7 2017 to July 17 2017, the two counties reported 1216 cholera cases including 14 deaths.
Contrary to the common belief that cholera cases are only reported in slum areas, some of the first class hotels in Nairobi have also reported the outbreak. This led to shutdown of some of the facilities, to pave way for investigations. In an effort to curb the rising cholera outbreak and spread in urban areas, the ministry of health directed that all informal food joints be closed. The order was meanwhile not effected.
Symptoms of the disease include vomiting, muscle cramps and diarrhea which in severe conditions lead to death within a few hours. This is due to excessive loss of water through diarrhea.
Curing cholera is very difficult and hence, prevention is the best thing one can do. At this point, I would like to echo the words of Desiderius Erasmus; a Dutch philosopher who once said, “Prevention is better than cure.”
This article gives a summary on some of the measures one can put in preventing attack by cholera.
The Six Basic Precautions in Cholera Prevention
1. Drink and use safe water
- Bottled water with unbroken seals and canned/bottled carbonated beverages are safe to drink and use.
- Use safe water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, and to make ice.
- Clean food preparation areas and kitchenware with soap and safe water and let dry completely before reuse.
To be sure water is safe to drink and use:
- Boil it or treat it with a chlorine product or household bleach.
- If boiling, bring your water to a complete boil for at least 1 minute.
- To treat your water with chlorine, use one of the locally available treatment products and follow the instructions.
- If a chlorine treatment product is not available, you can treat your water with household bleach. Add 8 drops of household bleach for every 1 gallon of water (or 2 drops of household bleach for every 1 liter of water) and wait 30 minutes before drinking.
- Always store your treated water in a clean, covered container.
*Piped water sources, drinks sold in cups or bags, or ice may not be safe and should be boiled or treated with chlorine.
2. Wash your hands often with soap and safe water;
- Before you eat or prepare food
- Before feeding your children
- After using the latrine or toilet
- After cleaning your child’s bottom
- After taking care of someone ill with diarrhea.
3. Use latrines or bury your feces; do not defecate in any water body
- Use latrines or other sanitation systems, like chemical toilets, to dispose of feces.
- Wash hands with soap and safe water after defecating.
- Clean latrines and surfaces contaminated with feces using a solution of household bleach and plenty of water.
4. Cook food well (especially seafood), keep it covered, eat it hot, and peel fruits and vegetables
- Boil it, Cook it, Peel it, or Leave it.
- Be sure to cook shellfish (like crabs and crayfish) until they are very hot all the way through.
*Avoid raw foods other than fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself.
5. Clean up safely-in the kitchen and in places where the family bathes and washes clothes
- Wash yourself, your children, diapers, and clothes, 30 meters (98 feet) away from drinking water sources.
6. Consider getting vaccinated before you travel
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a single-dose live oral cholera vaccine called Vaxchora. Vaxchora. It is recommended for adults who are 18 – 64 years traveling to an area of active cholera transmission with toxigenic cholera transmitting bacteria to prevent infection.