Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued a public health alert to states in the country over possible outbreak of cholera disease during the rainy season.
NCDC said 75 suspected cases of cholera were reported from eight local government areas in four states Abia (five); Adamawa (55); Borno (two), and Katsina (13). It however explained that none of the reported cases was laboratory confirmed, and that no death was recorded.
The centre said the warning has become necessary since various states in Nigeria have begun to experience high levels of rainfall.
According to NCDC weekly report, high rainfall can cause widespread flooding and stagnant water which can be a breeding ground for bacteria as well as mosquitoes.
“This also leads to increased transmission of communicable diseases such as cholera,” it said.
The NCDC public health advisory also suggested some tips on how to prevent the spread of cholera.
One of the tips suggested is that families should ensure that water is boiled and stored in a clean and safe container before drinking, adding that people should also ensure that the seals of bottled water are in place before drinking.
It urged people to always wash their hands with soap and clean running water, and to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and clean water are not available.
NCDC advised Nigerians to ensure that their food is well cooked before consumption, adding that they should avoid raw food such as fruits and vegetables, except they are washed in safe water or peeled by themselves.
Other precautionary measures proffered by the Centre included avoidance of open defecation, indiscriminate dumping of refuse and to ensure proper disposal of waste and frequent clearing of sewage.
“If you experience sudden watery diarrhea, please do not self-medicate, visit a health care facility immediately and take all sick persons with the signs or symptoms above to a health care facility immediately,” it warned.
On how to handle cases of infection, NCDC explained that cholera is an easily treatable disease if detected early.
According to the Centre, “Most infected people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS) to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. The ORS solution is available as a powder that can be reconstituted in boiled or bottled water. Without rehydration, approximately half the people with cholera die. With treatment, the number of fatalities drops to less than 1 percent. Severely dehydrated people may also need intravenous fluids.”
The NCDC cholera technical working group, which includes representatives of partner agencies, assured Nigerians of its readiness to monitor cases and support states in improving preparedness and response.