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Health ministry warns of cholera outbreak in West Africa

Aug 31, 2012, 10:37 AM

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Banjul, the National Disaster Management Agency and key stakeholders has warned of a cholera outbreak in the West Africa region.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry said currently there is an outbreak of cholera in Sierra Leone and Guinea Conakry, though “there is no reported case in The Gambia.”

Cholera is a highly infectious disease that can be spread rapidly from person to person, via contaminated food or water. Victims develop severe diarrhea with or without vomiting; and it can quickly kill within hours if untreated.

The ministry noted that in view of the contagious nature of the disease, it is requesting the general public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of cholera, which are severe watery diarrhea; vomiting; and fever.

As a precautionary measure, the ministry urged all individual that must travel to neighbouring countries, especially those travelling within the sub-region to adopt strictly to preventive measures like proper washing of hands with soap and water; washing of all vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating, and drinking water from a safe and protected source.

The ministry further urged travellers to neighbouring countries to reheat left-over food thoroughly before eating; safe disposal of human faeces after using the toilet, avoid/minimize public gatherings and remember to wash hands after shaking hands.

According to the statement, the ministry of health and her partners are on the alert, and all the health facilities including the border health posts are well-equipped and ready for any suspected case.

Noting that there is no need for panic among the general public, the health ministry urged any person with severe diarrhea and vomiting to report to the nearest health facility.