The United Nations Sets up Cholera Treatment Centers in South Sudan Amidst Increase of Cholera
A total of 808 cases of cholera have been found in the republic of South Sudan's capital city of Juba.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has confirmed that 883 cases of cholera have been found in the republic of South Sudan. Since seceding from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan has faced major conflict with government and opposing forces "which led to over a million of South Sudanese displaced and food insecure."
On August 6, 2016, these cholera cases were reported in South Sudan, "representing a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.49%." According to the OCHA report this week, twenty-two deaths have been reported in three locations: Juba, Terekeka and Jonglei. In Juba (808 cases) and Terekeka (14 cases), men accounted for 36% of cholera cases, while in Jonglei, 61 cases were reported and boys were those mostly affected (42 %).
This current outbreak is said to have stemmed from the consumption of untreated water from the Nile river, eating contaminated food from market vendors, and poor hygiene. An eruption of conflict in the country in July made access to clean water difficult due to the rising costs and devaluation of the South Sudanese Pound. The country has been suffering from a greater than 50% inflation rate and a poor urban and rural water source.
Two cholera treatment centers (CTC) have been set up in the cities of Gorom, El Giada and United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) at the Tongping transit site, to help provide treatment to those who are infected. In addition, according to the OCHA report, "eleven oral rehydration points (ORP) have been established to improve access to timely rehydration. Health facilities are being supported with tents, cholera kits, ambulances and fuel to ensure swift response to cases."
“Cholera is caused by consuming food or water with the cholera bacterium,” according to the CDC. Once vibrio cholerae infects the intestine, a person has contracted the illness.
The bacteria are primarily found in contaminated (by feces) water and food sources and can spread in areas with poor water treatment and sanitation. A person who consumes the contaminated food or water is not likely to spread the infection through casual contact; however, those who are infected, or who come in contact with an infected person should maintain healthy hygiene habits such good hand hygiene. Once infected, symptoms may appear within a few hours and five days, but they typically appear within two to three days. The CDC states that "approximately, one in 10 infected persons, will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps."
An infection with cholera is diagnosed through a stool sample or a rectal swab to test for vibrio cholerae.
Treatment for Cholera
Individuals can be treated with the oral rehydration solution of sugar, salts, and water to replenish the fluids lost through diarrhea. With swift rehydration, less than 1% of individuals infected with cholera will die, according to the CDC.
Ways to Avoid Cholera
There are many ways to observe in protecting against this infection:
- Drinking bottled or boiled water
- Avoiding tap water
- Proper handwashing with soap and water before and after eating or preparing food
- Avoiding raw or undercooked meats
According to the CDC, "Currently, two oral cholera vaccines are available: Dukoral® and ShanChol®, which are World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified. Cholera vaccines are not yet available in the U.S. and should not replace standard prevention and control measures." Travelers going to cholera prone areas may now have a vaccine to prevent the infection.