Urgent Measures to Prevent Cholera for Citizens


Nigeria is currently facing a severe cholera outbreak, with recent alerts from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirming the gravity of the situation. According to NCDC reports, 30 deaths have been recorded so far, and ten states are bearing the brunt of the outbreak, contributing to 90% of the cases. Additionally, a more recent update has reported five deaths and 60 hospitalisations due to cholera in Lagos.

Given the rapid spread and high fatality rate of cholera, it is crucial for citizens to be well-informed about preventive measures and appropriate responses if symptoms are observed.

Understanding Cholera

Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the Vibrio cholerae bacterium. It is typically spread through contaminated water and food. The symptoms of cholera can range from mild to severe and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Common Symptoms of Cholera:

Severe watery diarrhea
Rapid heart rate
Loss of skin elasticity
Dry mucous membranes
Low blood pressure
Muscle cramps

Preventive Measures

Preventing cholera involves a combination of personal hygiene practices, safe water and food handling, and community health measures. Here are the most effective ways to prevent cholera:

1. Ensure Safe Drinking Water:

Always drink water that has been boiled or treated with chlorine.
Use bottled water if available and ensure it is sealed.
Avoid drinking tap water, well water, or any water that is not treated.
Maintain Proper Sanitation:

2. Use latrines or other sanitation systems; do not defecate in any body of water.
Ensure that sewage is properly managed and does not contaminate water sources.
Practice Good Hygiene:

3. Wash hands frequently with soap and safe water, especially before handling food and after using the toilet.
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
Handle Food Safely:

4. Eat food that is thoroughly cooked and still hot.
Avoid raw or undercooked seafood and other raw foods.
Wash fruits and vegetables with safe water and peel them if possible.
Avoid Unhygienic Locations:

5. Avoid areas with poor sanitation and those known to have ongoing cholera outbreaks.
Be cautious when traveling to high-risk areas.

What to Do When Symptoms Are Noticed

If cholera symptoms are noticed, immediate action is crucial to prevent severe dehydration and potential death. Here are the steps to take:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention:

Go to the nearest health facility or hospital as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Ensure that the affected individual receives prompt medical care, as cholera can be fatal within hours if untreated.
Begin Oral Rehydration:

Start oral rehydration therapy (ORT) immediately using Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) solution.
If ORS is not available, make a homemade solution by mixing 6 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 liter of clean water.
Continue Hydration:

Keep drinking ORS solution or safe water continuously to combat dehydration until medical help is received.
Encourage the patient to drink fluids even if vomiting occurs.
Maintain Personal Hygiene:

Ensure that the patient washes their hands regularly with soap and safe water.
Isolate the patient’s bathroom facilities if possible to prevent the spread of the bacteria.
Notify Local Health Authorities:

Report the case to local health authorities to help them track the outbreak and implement control measures.
Cooperate with public health workers for contact tracing and other containment strategies.

Cholera is a preventable and treatable disease, yet it remains a significant public health threat in Nigeria during this outbreak. By following stringent hygiene practices, ensuring access to clean water and proper sanitation, and seeking immediate medical care when symptoms are detected, the spread of cholera can be mitigated, and lives can be saved. Public awareness and community engagement are critical components in the fight against this deadly disease.

The government, health agencies, and citizens must work together to overcome this challenge and protect the health and well-being of all Nigerians.

Mike Ojo

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