The Cape Coast Health directorate is reporting new cholera cases in the metropolis linked to contaminated food, local media reports.
Ten residents have been diagnosed with cholera and are they are currently hospitalized for their illness. The current situation has been described by health experts in the region as having reached an epidemic status.
Health officials warn the public to keep good hygiene especially their food intake while again being quick to visit the nearest health post if they start developing symptoms of the disease.
Cholera 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 and death.
It is caused by the bacterium, Vibrio cholerae. Serogroups O1 and O139 are the types associated with the epidemiological characteristics of cholera (outbreaks).
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.
The incubation for cholera can be from a few hours to 5 days. As long as the stools are positive, the person is infective. Some patients may become carriers of the organism which can last for months.
Cholera is diagnosed by growing the bacteria in culture. Treatment consists of replacement of fluids lost, intravenous replacement in severe cases. Antibiotic therapy can shorten the course of severe disease.