An outbreak of cholera has claimed six lives in the Lagos, Nigeria community of Isolo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), according to a local media report.

Nigeria map/CIA

The Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Unit reports forty-five cholera cases in the current outbreak. The outbreak strain has been identified as the Vibrio cholerae “Ogawa” strain.

The outbreak has been linked to a food–Abacha salad, a common food in the region. Domestic wells are also under health official’s scrutiny.

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 and death.

The bacteria are acquired through ingestion of contaminated water or food through a number ofmechanisms. 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.