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Cholera: facts and symptoms

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choleraIn the past two months, the country has been rocked with cholera outbreak that has majorly affected city hotels. As of this month, the Ministry of Health has reported that four people have died from the disease and over a total of 381 cases have been reported.

Last month for instance, an estimated 50 people contracted cholera while attending a health conference in Nairobi. Out of the 12 counties that have reported Cholera cases in only two have active outbreak of cholera; Nairobi and Garissa. In Nairobi, there are currently 67 admissions across various health facilities.

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Cholera is an infectious disease that is contracted when one eats contaminated food including raw foods such as fish and vegetables. Drinking of unhygienic water with a bacterium called Vibrio cholera can also be a cause of cholera. Its symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, dry mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth, throat, nose, and eyelids, low blood pressure, muscle cramps and dehydration.Globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that each year there are 1.3 to four million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide due to cholera.

Symptoms can be noted a few hours to up to five days after infection however, most infected people have no or mild symptoms, which can be ignored and if left untreated cholera can cause death within hours. It can be treated with oral rehydration solution and antibiotics.

It can be prevented by avoiding eating foods sold by street vendors such as boiled eggs, smokies, sausages, cassavas and chapati, maintaining good hygiene, washing of hands after using the toilet.

In Kenya, laboratories and hospitals are required to notify cases of cholera to the local Public Health Unit under the Public Health Act, 1991, who should in turn inform the national level. Public Health Units investigate cases to identify possible sources of infection and to prevent spread.

Some of the interventions undertaken by the government since the outbreak in May include: reactivation of the cholera response taskforce, rapid Response teams sent to conduct investigations in the affected counties, heightened surveillance for acute watery diarrhea, conducting active case search and contact tracing, inspection of public eateries and enforcement of the public law is ongoing.

Provision of water treatment chemicals, laboratory supplies, Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials and social mobilization and health awareness creation in communities is ongoing.

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