W.H.O: Cholera leaves deaths in its trail

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Cholera, the disease between August 2 and 8, with over 37,809 cases reported so far in twenty-two states despite being preventable and treatable, remains a frightening public health challenge in Nigeria as more than 1,174 people have lost their lives to intermittent outbreaks.

It is a disease associated with the pre-modern past, but cholera still kills hundreds of people in many Nigerian communities – year in, year out. Though easily preventable and treatable, the infectious disease has sadly crept into filthy crevices in more than twenty states, spreading like wildfire and wreaking havoc in intermittent outbreaks in many parts of the country. Sadly, there appears to be no final solution in sight as more and more cases are reported in the country.

Cholera is a water-borne disease characterised by sudden onset of profuse watery diarrhoea, which can lead to sudden death as a result of dehydration, if not managed quickly. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and weakness. Most infected people may show mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all. The time between infection and the appearance of symptoms of the disease ranges between 2 hours to 5 days. However, one glad tiding is that the disease is easily preventable and treatable, especially if detected early, experts have said consistently.

Most infected people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS), which helps to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. The ORS solution is available as a powder that can be reconstituted in boiled or bottled water. Severely dehydrated people may also need intravenous fluids. Without rehydration, health experts warn that approximately half the people with cholera will die. But with prompt treatment, the number of fatalities may drop significantly.

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As at the last count, figures released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the country recorded 816 deaths out of the 31,425 suspected cases of cholera in the country, as of August 1. The cases went haywire between August 2 and 8, killing an additional 1,174, bringing the total for this year to 1,990. It stated further in its epidemiological findings that the preventable and treatable disease has been reported in 23 states and Abuja since the beginning of 2021. The worst-hit states are Benue, Delta, Zamfara, Gombe, Bayelsa, Kogi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Kebbi, Cross River, Niger, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Yobe, Kwara, Enugu, Adamawa, Katsina, Borno, and Abuja, NCDC reported.

In Kebbi State, where over 146 people have been confirmed dead, cholera is still spreading like wildfire. As of last week, more than 2,028 persons had been affected by the cholera outbreak in the state. The outbreak, which was first recorded in Dirin daji community of Sakaba, has now spread to 20 local government areas of the state. The affected people spread across the local government areas. Reports had it that states in the north-west region are the ones recording the highest casualties so far: Katsina had recorded 75 deaths; while Zamfara (30 deaths); Sokoto (23 deaths) and Kano (119 deaths).

In Katsina, the cholera death toll is also rising as the outbreak spreads to more local government areas. At least, 25 out of the 34 local government areas of the state had recorded outbreaks of infections, with no fewer than 75 people dead. Also, about 1,534 people have now tested positive for the disease, with Funtua LGA (384 cases), Sabuwa (232), Kafur (215), Charanchi (135), Kankara (71), and (Jibia (69) leading in terms of cases. But in terms of mortality, Funtua led with 18 deaths, followed by Charanchi (14), Jibia (11), Kankara (5), Rimi (4), and Sabuwa (4).

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