Nigerians have been advised to use safe water and ensure general hygiene as part of measures to avert an epidemic outbreak of cholera in the country.
The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, in a weekly epidemiological report gave the advice and outlined eight ways to prevent the disease.
WAYS TO PREVENT CHOLERA
- Drink clean water, boiled or treated water with chlorine, or bottled water with unbroken seals and always cover container of water
- Use safe water to brush your teeth, wash and prepare food.
- Always prepare food in clean environment and wash kitchen utensils with soap and safe water
- Wash hands with soap before eating, feeding children, after using the toilet and cleaning up a child and when taking care of someone ill with cholera or diarrhoea
5.Imbibe good sanitation practices, do not defecate outside (open defecating), use latrines or toilets and wash hands after with soap and good water.
- Clean latrines and surfaces contaminated with faeces with water and bleach if a latrine is unavailable, defecate at least 30 meters (98 feet) away from any body of water and then bury faeces. In case of digging new latrines or temporary pit toilets it should be dug at least a half-metre (1.6 feet) deep.
Dispose plastic bags containing faeces in latrines, at collection points if available, or bury in the ground. Do not put plastic bags in chemical toilets.
- Safe Cooking Practices: Cook food (especially seafood) thoroughly. Be sure to cook shellfish (like crabs and crayfish) until they are very hot all the way through.
*Avoid raw foods other than fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself.
- Personal Hygiene: Wash yourself, your children, diapers/baby napkins, and clothes, 30 meters (98 feet) away from drinking water sources.
The NCDC stressed that it is necessary to implement these preventive measures individually and as a community.
“This preventive message should constitute the message given to the general public at the community, local government and national levels before and during an outbreak,” it stated.
The warning came against the backdrop of a reported cholera outbreak in Kwara State, raising the number of suspected cases in the country this year.
According to the NCDC report, children between the ages of one and five years remain the most affected with 248 cases or 16.1 per cent and the male population accounting for 50.7 per cent.
As at 30 June, 1,558 suspected cases were reported, of which 13 were confirmed and 11 deaths or 0.7 per cent fatality rate. Four local government areas in Kwara State, Asa, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, Ilorin West, were reported to have been affected with 50.6 per cent of the cases from Ilorin West.
The first cases were reported during the last week of April, with an increase in the number of cases and deaths in May. However, the report from the health agency shows that there has been a steady decline in the last four weeks.
The cases in Kwara, though currently localised, were not the first cholera outbreak recorded in Nigeria this year. The country had been witnessing pockets of outbreaks across some states which were quickly contained before reaching the epidemic threshold.
The disease is usually associated with the ingestion of contaminated foods, drinks and poor sanitary condition and is usually experienced during rainy season between May and October. Outbreaks are usually high during these months because of flood, poor sanitation, lack of access to potable water and safe sanitation.
Earlier this year, Zamfara state reported an outbreak with about 80 deaths. The situation was however contained before it could spread out of the state.
NCDC however said it will continue to advocate for states to be in the forefront in ensuring that the general public is enlightened about these preventive measures and also support communities to implement the measures.
Members of the public were also advised to seek care in a health facility if they have diarrhoea.