The outbreak of cholera in the southern Ghana city of Cape Coast has grown to 400 cases since it began about one month ago, according to a local media report.

CholeraThe University of Cape Coast hospital has seen half of the cases alone, prompting health authorities to call the outbreak “alarming”.

Health officials have attempted to get the outbreak under control by banning food vending on the campus of the University of Cape Coast. Fears are the outbreak could worsen as exams approach and students have less time to prepare their own meals.

“People should just watch the food they eat and the water they drink. We advise that people should cook their own food”, Benjamin Amoako, Cape Coast diseases control officer said.

No cholera related deaths have been reported.

Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Water is contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person or by untreated sewage. Food is often contaminated by water containing cholera bacteria or handled by a person ill with cholera.

Often people have mild illness or no symptoms. However, about 1 in 20 (5%) of infected people will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.