Greeting! Chantelle here, reporting live from my first ever cholera outbreak. Infection control is paramount in cholera epidemics, and where there is chlorine, there is always a watsan nearby! So, myself and my national staff counterpart were sent to Fianga, where MSF has been intervening for the past few weeks.
I wish I could search the internet an tell you how many people unnecessarily die from cholera every year, corresponding directly to how many people have no access to clean water or a shitter of some sort; but alas, those are hoop dreams in an imperfectly connected wireless world and I am left only quoting from the MSF cholera guidelines and reporting what I see here. If you have followed the events in Haiti or previously in Zimbabwe, you have a sense of the potential scale of mortality if conditions permit.
“Cholera is an acute enteric disease characterized by the sudden onset of profuse painless watery diarrhoea or rice-water like diarrhoea, often accompanied by vomiting…”
Yup – I can vouch for that. “Rice-water” is pretty accurate.
“…which can rapidly lead to severe dehydration and cardiovascular collapse.” “In severe forms (a patient can lose) more than 10 to 20 litres/ day”
Wow! Didn’t measure, but I can believe it.
Cholera can cause as high as 20 to 50% mortality if case management is not adequate. Conversely, the death rate can be less than 2% if well treated.”
Easy to get, easy to cure. Simple oral and IV rehydration for the majority of cases, with antibiotics for the most severe cases. Really just a matter of pumping them with fluids. IF they can get to a health centre and IF that health centre has supplies. Therein lays the kicker.
WHO cholera information brochure. Don't be fooled though, the discharged body fluids are rather white than red.