The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said cholera has spread to nine states and blamed the rise on contamination of drinking water supplies by excreta from infected people.
Also, the NCDC said the ongoing strike action by some health workers in the country under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) was affecting the provision of care in health facilities in many states.
According to a release issued by the NCDC and signed by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, “There have been confirmed outbreaks of cholera in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Plateau, Yobe, Nasarawa, Anambra and Zamfara States.
He said the solution to preventing cholera was in providing potable drinking water for the populace.
The CEO of the NCDC said current rise of cholera cases was similarly attributed to the onset of the rains, saying there has been an increase in the number of Cholera cases reported in Nigeria in the last three weeks.
Cholera is a disease that causes acute watery diarrhoea in children and adults and if left untreated can lead to death within hours. While cholera is endemic in Nigeria, there is an increase in the number of cases during the rainy season, usually between April and September.
Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera, which is found in the stool of an infected person and spreads to other people when they consume contaminated food or water. Cholera transmission is more common in areas with overcrowding, poor sanitation and hygiene practices, lack of clean food and water, and areas where open defecation is common practice.
To this end, the NCDC is issuing this public health advisory note to members of the public to be aware of the risk and take appropriate precautions.
Cholera is characterised by sudden onset of severe acute watery diarrhoea, which can lead to death as a result of dehydration, if not managed on time. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and weakness. Most people who have been infected may not show symptoms or have mild symptoms.
He said cholera was an easily treatable disease, if detected early. “Most infected people can be treated successfully through prompt administration of oral rehydration solution (ORS) and supportive treatment.
“To reduce the spread of cholera, the NCDC advised that precautionary measures should be taken, and offers the following five priority actions to Nigerians:
*Ensure water is well boiled before drinking and bottled water is properly sealed. Store boiled water in a clean and safe container;
*Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available;
*Ensure all food is well cooked before consumption. Avoid raw foods such as fruits and vegetables, except you have washed them in safe water or peeled them yourself;
*Avoid open defecation and indiscriminate refuse dumping and ensure proper disposal of waste and clearing of sewage;
*If you experience sudden watery diarrhoea, please visit a health care facility immediately and take all sick persons with the signs or symptoms above to a health care facility immediately