, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – With the number of counties listed as cholera hotspots now up to four, it is important to know how to protect you and your family from the disease.
The first thing to know is that cholera is a bacterial infection of the intestines spread through contaminated food or water.
It is therefore important to ensure that the water you drink and use, even to brush your teeth, is safe.
There are several ways to achieve this including boiling the water at 100° Celsius for at least a minute, using chemical treatments such as WaterGuard as instructed on the packaging and through ozone treatment, UV sterilisation and filtration.
If you choose to purchase bottled water, ensure that the seal is unbroken as with any other bottled beverage you consume.
If none of these options are available to you, you could use regular, unscented household bleach – not the colour safe variety or one with cleaners other than chlorine – to make your water safe for drinking.
In this case, you add two drops per litre of water, stir and let it stand for a half hour or longer if the chlorine taste is too strong.
And you shouldn’t be drinking unpasteurised milk or milk products either.
Even the water you use to make your ice should be safe to drink as is the water you use to wash and prepare food.
Avoid buying food or beverages from street vendors and when preparing your own, ensure your hands are clean by washing them with soap and water.
When dealing with foods that are eaten raw such as fruits and vegetables, in addition to washing them, you are safer peeling them and if you can, boil them before cooking.
Always ensure that the food you consume or serve others is cooked well particularly where shellfish like crabs and crayfish are concerned: to the point that they are piping hot.
Once the food is cooked, keep it covered and serve it hot – hands clean.
Also ensure your hands are clean before feeding children, before eating and after using the bathroom.
Your toilet should also be cleaned with 1:9 parts household bleach in water with the bathing and laundry areas also regularly cleaned.
If someone in your home is found to be suffering from cholera, sterilise any contaminated bedding and clothing.
The good news is that if caught early, cholera is relatively easy to treat. So, if you are suffering from watery diarrhoea and vomiting, make sure you get tested immediately.
This is because the diarrhoea and vomiting cause dehydration which when severe can cause seizures and kidney failure and could lead to death with several already reported in Nairobi and Kisumu from the current outbreak.
Other affected counties include Machakos and Garissa.
Simply put, cook it, boil it, peel it, or leave it.