With the onset of the rains, there has been an increase in the number of Cholera cases reported in Nigeria in the last three weeks prompting the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to issue a public health advisory.

Public domain image/Dartmouth http://remf.dartmouth.edu/images/bacteriaSEM/source/1.html
Public domain image/Dartmouth

While endemic in Nigeria, there have been confirmed outbreaks of Cholera in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Plateau, Yobe, Nasarawa, Anambra and Zamfara States. The ongoing strike action by some health workers in the country is affecting the provision of care in health facilities in many States.

Cholera is a disease that causes acute watery diarrhea in children and adults and if left untreated can lead to death within hours.

Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera, which is found in the stool of an infected person and spreads to other people when they consume contaminated food or water. Cholera transmission is more common in areas with overcrowding, poor sanitation and hygiene practices, lack of clean food and water, and areas where open defecation is common practice.

To reduce the spread of Cholera, the NCDC advises that precautionary measures should be taken, and offers the following five priority actions to Nigerians:

1. Ensure water is well boiled before drinking and bottled water is properly sealed. Store boiled water in a clean and safe container

2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

3. Ensure all food is well cooked before consumption. Avoid raw foods such as fruits and vegetables, except you have washed them in safe water or peeled them yourself.

4. Avoid open defecation and indiscriminate refuse dumping and ensure proper disposal of waste and clearing of sewage

5. If you experience sudden watery diarrhea, please visit a health care facility immediately and take all sick persons with the signs or symptoms above to a health care facility immediately

Cholera is an easily treatable disease, if detected early. Most infected people people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS) and supportive treatment.