11 new districts in Kenya report Cholera

December 4, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 4 – At least 11 districts have reported new cholera cases in the last one week with the confirmed cases now standing at 159, according to statistics by the Ministry of Public Health.

The Director of Public Health Dr Shahnaaz Shariff said on Friday that the affected districts were in Rift Valley, Central, Coast and Nairobi provinces.

“The situation is under control in other areas which were previously affected by cholera like in Nyanza and Laisamis.  We have not had any other cases and certain parts of Nairobi like Kasarani where Kamiti prison is we have not had new cases for the last one week,” he said.

In an interview with Capital News, Dr Shariff said Turkana had the highest number of confirmed cholera cases in the last one week totaling 54.

“Our big problem is actually Turkana because there we have had cases since September but we have managed to contain it in other places,” he said.

He however said there were over 4,700 cases of acute watery diarrhoea in the last one month and 131 deaths.

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.

Cholera can be prevented through provision of adequate safe drinking water, proper personal hygiene, food hygiene and hygienic disposal of human excreta.

“We have been advocating for hand washing with soap and water as one of the most efficient ways of preventing cholera. The other one is drinking clean, safe water and eating in safe places. The most unsafe place to eat would be outside in the open and we are discouraging food hawking,” Dr Shariff said.

Raw or undercooked seafood may also be a source of infection in areas where cholera is prevalent and sanitation is poor. Vegetables and fruits that have been washed with water contaminated by sewage may also transmit the infection.

WHO further says that Cholera outbreaks can occur sporadically in any part of the world where water supplies, sanitation, food safety and hygiene practices are inadequate.

Overcrowded communities with poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water supplies are most frequently affected.

“An outbreak occurs in a particular area then if that area is free of cases for 21 days the outbreak is over so what has been happening is that it has been occurring in different places,” Dr Shariff said.

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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