Suspected Cholera Outbreak

Recent spike in severe diarrhea cases prompts health officials to urge caution

Lagos residents are being advised to take precautions following a reported surge in cases of severe gastroenteritis, with health authorities suspecting a possible cholera outbreak. As of June 11th, 2024, five deaths have been attributed to the illness, and around 60 people have required hospitalization.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has called for heightened vigilance.

While confirmation of a cholera outbreak awaits test results, health officials warn residents not to wait. Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, and can be fatal if left untreated.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It spreads through contaminated water and food, particularly in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene.

Symptoms of Cholera

The most common symptom of cholera is profuse watery diarrhea, often accompanied by vomiting and dehydration. In severe cases, rapid dehydration can lead to muscle cramps, shock, and even death.

Protecting Yourself from Cholera

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from cholera:

  • Drink safe water: Only consume bottled or boiled water. Avoid untreated tap water, streams, or lakes.
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet and before eating.
  • Thoroughly cook food: Ensure all food is cooked to steaming temperatures and properly stored.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables: Wash all produce thoroughly before consumption.
  • Seek immediate medical attention: If you experience severe diarrhea or vomiting, seek medical help immediately.

Protecting Children: Preventing and Treating Cholera

Children are particularly vulnerable to cholera due to their developing immune systems. Here’s what you need to know about preventing and treating cholera in children:

  • Zinc Supplementation: Zinc supplements can be beneficial for children under 5, reducing diarrhea duration and potentially preventing future episodes.
  • Vaccination: It can be effectively prevented with vaccination. (Shanchol & Euvichol) Similar to Dukoral, requiring two doses but with a 3-year protection window. A single dose offers short-term protection. Used in mass vaccination campaigns.

Additional Tips for Children:

  • Monitor Fluid Intake: Encourage your child to sip fluids frequently, even if they vomit. Small amounts are better than none.
  • Electrolyte Replacement: Consider commercially available popsicles or electrolyte solutions specifically formulated for children.
  • Breastfeeding: For infants, continue breastfeeding as it provides essential nutrients and hydration.
  • Close Monitoring: Watch for signs of dehydration like dry mouth, sunken eyes, decreased urination, and lethargy. Seek immediate medical attention if these occur.

Remember: Early intervention is crucial. By prioritizing hygiene, safe water, and seeking medical help promptly, you can significantly improve your child’s chances of a full recovery from cholera.

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