Understanding Cholera…

I have received many emails from groups wondering if it’s safe to go to Haiti during this Cholera Crisis. I think it’s scary because you don’t really understand it. You hear about it on the news and it’s frightening for the HAITIANS  – who have little ability to change their style of living. But for you as an American visiting Haiti – Understand this:

How can I avoid getting cholera?

The risk for cholera is very low for people visiting areas with epidemic cholera. When simple precautions are observed, contracting the disease is unlikely.

All people (visitors or residents) in areas where cholera is occurring or has occurred should observe the following recommendations:

  • Drink only bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water and bottled or canned carbonated beverages. When using bottled drinks, make sure that the seal has not been broken.
  • To disinfect your own water: boil for 1 minute or filter the water and add 2 drops of household bleach or ½ an iodine tablet per liter of water.
  • Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean water.
  • If no water and soap are available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Clean your hands especially before you eat or prepare food and after using the bathroom.
  • Use bottled, boiled, or chemically treated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, or make ice.
  • Eat foods that are packaged or that are freshly cooked and served hot.
  • Do not eat raw and undercooked meats and seafood or unpeeled fruits and vegetables

***UNDERSTAND THAT THE MISSION HEEDS ALL THESE PRECAUTIONS.

What is the treatment for cholera?

Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients can be treated with oral rehydration solution, a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with water and drunk in large amounts. This solution is used throughout the world to treat diarrhea. Severe cases also require intravenous fluid replacement. With prompt rehydration, fewer than 1% of cholera patients die.

Antibiotics shorten the course and diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as receiving rehydration. Persons who develop severe diarrhea and vomiting in countries where cholera occurs should seek medical attention promptly.

***UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS VERY TREATABLE WITH VERY SIMPLE INTERVENTIONS

Should I be worried about getting cholera from others?

A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces of an infected person that contaminates water and/or food. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water. The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill.

***UNDERSTAND THAT SIMPLY TALKING TO OR HAVING CASUAL CONTACT DOES NOT EQUAL INFECTION!


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