CHOLERA HITS BAKASSI: First Epidemic Outbreak With Rising Dead Toll!

In a Communique dated November 20, 2019, the Cameroon Minister of Public Health, MANAOUDA Malachi, inform the public of an epidemic outbreak of Cholera in the locality of Idabato, Bakassi in the South West Region of Cameroon since November 13, 2019.

Response measures have been implemented in the health district to control and eradicate this epidemic. An active search for suspected cases on the ground is in progress, Malachie said in a statement on Thursday.

Without stating if there were any casualties at the time the communique was issued, the minister called on the population to be vigilant, making sure to direct all persons manifesting diarrhea and vomiting to the nearest health facility.

While there have been some controversies over the actual casualties, a Ghana news outlet, News Ghana, reported that...

...the death toll has risen to five, while 12 others have been hospitalized, Cameroon’s local health officials said on Thursday.

While officials estimated that the disease has been caused by failure to abide by hygienic regulations, it will take both adequate public health infrastructure and competent workforce, and local efforts from the community to contain the outbreak and stop any rising dead toll.

This is the first time cases of cholera have been reported in the oil-rich area that is inhabited by some 200,000 people, and any intervention failure will put the lives of these inhabitants and those in neighbouring health districts in danger. At the time of writing, all the identified cases have been quarantined for fear of further spread.

An epidemic outbreak like this one is both an indication of the presence of determining factors like poor hygienic conditions, overcrowding, war and famine, and a serious alarm to unaffected areas to better prepare the necessary infrastructure and workforce to avoid spread.

What Is Cholera?

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae. The disease is most common in places with poor sanitation, crowding, war, and famine.

Causes of Cholera

Vibrio cholerae is the bacterium that causes cholera and is usually found in food or water contaminated by feces from a person with the infection.

Common sources include:

  • Municipal water supplies

  • Ice made from municipal water

  • Foods and drinks sold by street vendors

  • Vegetables grown with water containing human wastes

  • Raw or undercooked fish and seafood caught in waters polluted with sewage

When a person consumes the contaminated food or water, the bacteria release a toxin in the intestines that produces severe diarrhea.

Symptoms of Cholera

Symptoms of cholera can begin as soon as a few hours or as long as five days after infection. While severe diarrhea and vomiting are the common symptoms leading to dehydration, there are other clinical signs and symptoms linked to dehydration.

Protecting Against Cholera

During an outbreak, protection becomes a very important measure to prevent infection from cases. You can protect yourself and your family by using only water that has been boiled, water that has been chemically disinfected, or bottled water.

Be sure to use bottled, boiled, or chemically disinfected water for the following purposes;

  • Drinking

  • Preparing food or drinks

  • Making ice

  • Brushing your teeth

  • Washing your face and hands

  • Washing dishes and utensils that you use to eat or prepare food

  • Washing fruits and vegetables

To disinfect your own water, boil it for one minute (or 3 minutes at higher elevations) or filter it and use a commercial chemical disinfectant.

If you develop severe, watery diarrhea and vomiting -- particularly after eating raw shellfish or traveling to a locality where there is an outbreak -- rush to the nearest health facility.


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