CALABAR, April 4, 2023 - Cholera is endemic in Nigeria. It is highly contagious and occurs in places without access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. It causes massive diarrhea and vomiting, which, if left untreated, can quickly lead to severe dehydration and subsequent death.
An epidemiological report from the State Ministry of Health shows that 638 suspected cases and 17 deaths were reported in the affected areas between December 2022 and February 2023.
To prevent further deaths, the state government, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, has established a Rapid Response Team (RRT) of experts to coordinate interruption of the disease," said Dr. Janet Ekpeyong, Cross River State Commissioner for Health.
"With the support of our partners, we have increased the capacity of existing cholera treatment centers in the hotspots. The government is committed to taking action to ensure that residents of the state have access to safe drinking water and sanitation services to reduce the incidence of cholera and other waterborne infectious diseases.
Commending WHO for its prompt support, Dr. Ekpeyong said, "WHO has been a reliable and key partner in providing technical guidance and coordination for emergency cholera interventions in the state, as well as donating medical commodities.
Part of WHO's support to the country included the donation of cholera rapid diagnostic kits and Cary Blair medium for transporting stool samples for culture testing to effectively diagnose patients.
In addition, 2,000 intravenous fluids, intubation and oral rehydration salts and infection prevention and control commodities were donated.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.
Diagnosis and Detection
Isolation and identification of Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1 or O139 by culture of fecal specimens remains the gold standard for laboratory diagnosis of cholera.
Cary Blair medium is the ideal transport medium, and selective sodium thiosulfate-citrate-bile salt agar (TCBS) is ideal for isolation and identification. Reagents for serogrouping of Vibrio cholerae isolates are available in state health department laboratories throughout the United States. Commercially available rapid test kits are useful in epidemic settings but do not yield isolates for antimicrobial susceptibility testing and typing, and therefore should not be used for routine diagnosis.
In many countries where cholera is not uncommon but where diagnostic laboratory tests are difficult to obtain, WHO recommends the following clinical definitions for suspected cholera cases.
In areas with limited or no laboratory testing, the rapid test can provide an early warning to public health officials that an outbreak of cholera is occurring.