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Reported cholera outbreak in Senegal

Jan 6, 2012, 12:48 PM

We were just told of reported cholera cases in neighbouring Senegal.

While there is no cause for panic in The Gambia, it is important for us to be on the alert.

Cholera is a highly infectious disease that can spread rapidly from person to person, via contaminated food or water.

Victims develop severe diarrhea with or without vomiting, and cholera can quickly kill within hours, if untreated.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, 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 disease still remains a global threat, and calls for concerted efforts by health authorities and partners.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated water or food.

Prevention and preparedness for cholera require a coordinated multidisciplinary approach.

Cholera can rapidly lead to severe dehydration and death if left untreated.

Measures for the prevention of cholera mostly consist of providing clean water and proper sanitation to populations, who do not yet have access to basic services.

Health education and good food hygiene are equally important.

Communities should be reminded of basic hygienic behaviours, including the necessity of systematic hand-washing with soap after defecation and before handling food or eating, as well as safe preparation and conservation of food.

We recommend that appropriate media, such as radio, television or newspapers should be continuously involved in disseminating health education messages.

Community and religious leaders should also be associated with social mobilization campaigns.

In addition, strengthening surveillance and early warning systems greatly helps in detecting the first cases, and put in place control measures.