March 23, 2014

 …What You Should Know.

Cholera is a disease of the intestines characterised by very frequent and very watery stools and vomiting. It is caused by a bacterium- Vibrio Cholerae which has about four strains; it has been responsible for several epidemics (affecting many people simultaneously in an area) and pandemics (affecting a whole country/ whole continent/the world. The period between infection and symptoms varies from 2 to 5 days. Up to date, Cholera has caused seven pandemics with six occurring before 1923. Most of the six pandemics originated in India and Bangladesh. The seventh epidemic which is apparently still on started in 1961 in Indonesia spreading to South-East Asia in 1962 and the rest of Asia in the following years. In 1970, it reached Europe and some parts of Africa involving about 28 countries in the 1970s before regressing to India and Bangladesh. In 1991, the pandemic spread to South and Central America. In 1993, 80 countries reported cholera epidemics, 2003, – 45 countries with 894 deaths. The disease has drastically declined in developed countries, now mainly in developing/underdeveloped countries of Africa, south – east Asia, South and Central America. Only imported cases are reported in developed countries.

Cholera has been reported in the following African countries in the last five years Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Mali, DR Congo, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone among others.


Between January and June 2013, a total of 25,762 Cholera cases were recorded by WHO in Africa with 490 deaths. 18 countries including Nigeria were affected. WHO estimates about 3-5million cholera cases a year with about 100,000 to 120,000 deaths.

How Cholera Presents itself:-

The disease is characterized by frequent vomiting and severe diarrhoea (very watery stools) not accompanied by abdominal pain. The person loses water so much and rapidly, that if the fluid lost is not replaced, the person goes into shock and dies. Death is rare if the disease is adequately treated. According to WHO, Cholera should be suspected if

1.         A person older than 5years develops severe and acute watery diarrhoea usually with vomiting.


2.        Any person above the age of 2 years has severe watery diarrhoea in an area where there is an outbreak of cholera.

This is very important to the residents of the LGAs affected by cholera outbreak right now in

Nasarawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Sokoto States and the neighbouring states of Katsina, Kebbi, Benue

and Taraba, all in Northern Nigeria.

However, a case of cholera is only confirmed on finding the bacteria, Vibrio Cholerae

in the stool of the patient in a laboratory. Every case of cholera must be reported to WHO (World Health Organization).


Man is the reservoir of the infection. It is transmitted through water or food contaminated by the stool of the infected persondirectly (either sick or not, about 3 days before the onset of symptoms and up to 3-4 weeks after recovery) or indirectlyby flies.


All suspected cases should be taken to hospital immediately for treatment. Death is case if adequate treatment is not received.


1.            Drinking safe water – treated or boiled

2.            Use of appropriate sanitary facilities (toilets)

3.            Food Hygiene – Cook raw food properly

              - Eat cooked food immediately

              - wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly

- Store cooked food properly (covered or in refrigerators)

4.           Learning about the rudiments of the disease.

5.         Early response to mass movement of persons during natural disasters such as flooding, or as a result of conflicts by Government.

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