Fieldset
Post 3: Cholera Calling!

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

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.

I quote:

“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

WHO cholera information brochure. Don't be fooled though, the discharged body fluids are rather white than red.