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As of recent, reports indicate that there has been a cholera outbreak in Gauteng. In this article, we explore what it is, the symptoms of cholera and how to prevent getting infected.

What You Should Know

Gauteng is facing a cholera outbreak, says South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases. This follows reports that, as of 23 February this year, six cases of cholera have been confirmed and one person has died of the disease. The local source of Cholera transmission is yet to be established.

The Department of Health says it is concerned about the rising number of cholera cases, but adds that the public should not panic.

What is Cholera

Cholera is a bacterial infection that is commonly spread through contaminated water, and food that has come into contact with contaminated water. It is most common in areas that don’t have piped water.

What are The Symptoms of Cholera?

The symptoms typically appear within a few days of exposure to the bacteria. The most common symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle cramps. In severe cases, dehydration can occur, which can lead to shock and even death if not treated quickly.

How to prevent cholera

Preventing cholera is key, especially in areas where outbreaks are common. The following are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting cholera:

  • Drink only clean water:

    Cholera bacteria can survive in water for several days, so it is important to drink only water that has been boiled (make sure it boils rapidly for at least one minute before taking it off the heat). You can also treat it by adding chlorine or bleach. This can be done by adding 1 teaspoon of household bleach (containing 3 to 5% chlorine concentration) to 20 liters of water, mix well, and set aside for at least 30 minutes before use. Once you have boiled or treated the water, make sure it is kept in clean containers.

  • Practice good hygiene:

    Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating, after using the toilet, before preparing food, after handling garbage or animals and after changing nappies. Make sure to teach your kids good hygiene habits as well.

  • Avoid raw or undercooked food:

    Make sure that any raw food, like fruit, is carefully washed in clean, boiled water.

  • Dispose of waste properly:

    Cholera bacteria can spread easily through faeces (poo), so it is important to dispose of waste in a sanitary manner and to avoid defecating or going to the toilet in or near bodies of water, like rivers.

  • If you suspect that you may have cholera,

    go directly to your local clinic or health facility. Do not wait. Although most cases of cholera are mild, if your symptoms are severe, you should seek medical attention immediately. It is likely that treatment will involve replacing the fluids you have lost, usually with a simple rehydration solution that comes in the form of a powder. People with more serious cases of cholera may be put on a drip and given antibiotics.