Nairobi exposed to cholera

July 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – The Kenya Red Cross Society has sounded a cholera alarm for Nairobi citing the biting water shortage in most city estates.

Communications Manager Titus Mung’ou told Capital News that a cholera outbreak was possible in the metropolis because residents had resorted to buying water, mostly from untrustworthy sources.

“People who are buying water need to be careful on whether they are buying water that is treated,” Mr Mung’ou cautioned.

“And if you are not sure then you need to boil the water or treat it.”

He said by end of June 4,000 cholera and severe diarrhoea cases had been reported countrywide with 89 deaths.

Nyanza province was the most affected with eight districts reporting such cases.

 “There is now community education and public health advocacy, also water and sanitation provision of these facilities is being done like water treatment kits as well as promotion of food hygiene and safety,” he said.

The first case of the current cholera outbreak was detected in late December last year in Nyanza Province.

The Ministry of Public health has attributed the outbreak to scarcity of afe drinking water due to prolonged drought, use of highly contaminated water from the riverbeds and other water points, poor human waste disposal due to low latrine coverage and poor hygiene practices while handling foods.

Last month, Minister Beth Mugo said a total of Sh62.4 million was needed to contain the outbreak in 31 affected districts and termed the outbreak “an emergency.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with a bacterium known as Vibrio Cholerae.

It has a short incubation period of less than one day to five days after which it causes profuse painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given.

Vomiting also occurs in most patients.

The WHO recommends the use of oral rehydration salts which can also be homemade using half a teaspoon of salt and six level teaspoons of sugar dissolved in one litre of safe water, to reduce deaths from cholera.

In its website, the international health body says lightly salted rice water or plain water can also be given to a cholera patient before seeking medical attention.

This could avert up to 80 percent of deaths from cholera.


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