The Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), Imiringi in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State closed their doors Friday in the wake of a cholera outbreak that sickened at least 11 students, according to local media accounts.

Vibrio cholerae

The 11 students were taken to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Yenagoa for treatment of the serious bacterial disease.

Outbreaks of cholera have been reported in the state this year in Southern Ijaw and Sagbama local government areas.

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Health officials say they have sent medical personnel to FMC to ascertain suspected cases of gastroenteritis and assess the situation. It is not clear the source of the outbreak.

Cholera, caused by  the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is an acute bacterial intestinal disease characterized by sudden onset, profuse watery stools (given the appearance as rice water stools because of flecks of mucus in water) due to a very potent enterotoxin. The enterotoxin leads to an extreme loss of fluid and electrolytes in the production of diarrhea. It has been noted that an untreated patient can lose his bodyweight in fluids in hours resulting in shock anddeath.

The bacteria are acquired through ingestion of contaminated water or food through a number of mechanisms. Water is usually contaminated by the feces of infected individuals. Drinking water can be contaminated at the source, during transport or during storage at home. Food can get contaminated by soiled hands, during preparation or while eating.

Beverages and ice prepared with contaminated water and fruits and vegetables washed with this water are other examples. Some outbreaks are linked to raw or undercooked seafood.

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