Tanzania: Four People Have Died of Cholera in Missenyi District

Washing hands helps to prevent the spread of cholera (file photo).

Kagera — KAGERA: KAGERA Regional Commissioner (RC), Ms Fatma Mwassa has said that the Cholera has been confirmed to have hit Missenyi District in the region with four deaths confirmed so far.

She has urged residents to maintain hygiene, including having decent toilets to ensure that cholera is eliminated.

The deaths happened on Wednesday last week at Bugorora Ward's Buchurago village, in Missenyi District, while five patients were admitted to the St Therese Omukajunguti Dispensary, she said.

Ms Mwassa said the fight against the epidemic must involve all residents.

"It is a matter of life and death. The only known cause for the deadly disease is dirtiness in all its forms. First and foremost, proper sanitation is one of the tools against the disease. It requires the highest degree of personal hygiene. This can be done. Let us all take heed," she said.

She urged residents to take precautionary measures, including washing hands with soap, before taking any meal and doing the same when coming out of a latrine.

"The agenda of keeping the environment clean should be permanent. This should be routine for each household to ensure that they have decent toilets and garbage is properly disposed. People should also be sensitised to maintain hygiene and drink boiled water," she said.

Ms Mwassa directed District Commissioners (DCs) and District Executive Directors (DEDs) to ensure that surveillance teams are keeping a 24-hour monitoring and give report on any suspected case.

Kagera Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Kaniki Issessanda, on the other hand, explained that cholera is an infection of the small intestines by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholera. Symptoms may range from none, mild, to severe.

The symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that lasts a few days. Vomiting and muscle cramps may also occur. Diarrhea can be so severe that it leads within hours to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

This may result in sunken eyes, cold skin, decreased skin electricity and wrinkling of the hands and feet. The dehydration may result in the skin turning bluish. Symptoms start two hours to five days after exposure, he said.

According to Dr Issessanda, cholera is caused by a number of types of Vibrio cholera, with some producing more severe disease than others. It is spread mostly by water and food that has been contaminated with human faeces containing the bacteria.

Humans are the only animals affected. Risk factors of the disease include poor sanitation, not enough clean drinking water and poverty. Prevention involves improved sanitation and access to clean water, he said.

Being a water-borne and filth- borne disease, cholera is no laughing matter. It is a highly contagious malady that can wreak havoc in a wider area within a very short span of time, leaving a trail of death in its wake.

Cholera affects an estimated 3-5 million people worldwide and causes 58,000- 130,000 deaths a year. It is downright disgraceful as the epidemic is all about coming into mouth contact with infected human faeces, he said.

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