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3, 721 Cholera Cases, 62 dead in four Districts
….Health Ministry worried
By Mustapha Sesay
Officials in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, West Africa are currently thinking about possible strategies that will bring to halt the frequent deaths of Sierra Leoneans in four districts, namely Kambia, Port Loko, Pujehun and the Western Area.
A cholera epidemic in the four Districts has claimed the lives of 62 people as at Tuesday 17th July 2012. Kambia District records the highest number of deaths at 26 whilst Port Loko, Pujehun and the Western Area have 21, 9 and 6 respectively.
The epidemic has now spread to the city Freetown with two hundred and seventy four reported cases since the outbreak. Port Loko District is reported to have recorded the highest number of cases with a total of one thousand nine hundred nineteen people affected by the recent outbreak. This is followed by Kambia district with nine hundred twenty four reported cases.
Report states that the latest outbreak has become a course for concern especially the Health Ministry, which is fighting tooth and nail to map up prevention education and strategies to prevent further cases.
Figures released by the Ministry also show that a total of one thousand nine hundred sixty children under the ages of five have been affected superseding adult cases recorded at one thousand seven hundred sixty one cases in all districts.
More cases of under-fives have been reported from Port Loko making the situation worrisome. Chlorine according to the Ministry of Health has been dispatched to provincial districts with increased surveillance along the area. Centers referred to as blue flag have been created to treat cases of Cholera in all affected areas as part of urgent measures put in place to treat the disease.
However, a medical team with support from the World Health Organization has also been dispatched to the area to collect samples especially water samples, as most of the areas affected depend on streams and water wells for domestic purposes except for the city Freetown that enjoys pipe born water.
Water sources in all affected areas are now undergoing treatment so as to curtain the disease.
It can be recalled in March this year a total of 34 people were reported dead as a result of cholera disease, with over 2,000 cases reported in three districts around the country.
Officials say the Districts affected are Kambia, Port Loko and Pujehun and that measures were put in place to contain the spread of the epidemic.
Cholera outbreak was first discovered in Yele Boya, a small Island in Kambia district on Sierra Leone’s border with Guinea, while more outbreaks were later reported in two other districts.
Cholera is said to be a severe disease which primarily affects the intestinal tract and it is caused by the pathogenic bacteria.
It causes weakness, fatigue, rapid pulse, excessive thirst, glassy and or sunken eyes, lack of tears, low urine output, vomiting, and diarrhea. Basically, because of the excessive amount of vomiting and diarrhea, the body becomes extremely dehydrated which leads to the other symptoms mentioned and, if not treated soon, also leads to death.
These pathogenic bacterial strains are usually ingested by drinking contaminated water or eating fish not cooked properly, specifically shell fish. The symptoms of cholera include dehydration, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The treatment of cholera involves antibiotics and re-hydration methods. Although, in most severe cases of cholera, this can lead to death.
To cause the disease in a normal healthy adult, nearly 1 million Vibrio cholerae bacterial strains must invade the body by ingestion. But susceptibility to cholera can increase in those who are malnourished, those with decreased gastric acidity (occurs due to heavy antacids usage) or those with poor immune system.