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Cholera Is Back; Watch What You Eat   
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Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting.

Transmission is primarily through consuming contaminated water or food. The severity of the diarrhea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Primary treatment is with oral rehydration solution and if these are not tolerated, intravenous fluids. Antibiotics are beneficial in severe cases.

Cholera does not respect anyone. Perhaps, the only one it respects is the one who does all he or she can to prevent it.

We will look at certain things we have to do to prevent this deadly disease.

Cook food thoroughly and eat it while it is hot
Allowing enough cooking time will ensure that the food creates a hot environment that can render the cholera bacterium useless.

When food remains hot, you are also sure to be warding off any possible source of contamination.

Soups, stews and all liquid foods should be allowed to boil thoroughly when being re-heated for consumption.

There are, however,certain foods such as fruits which are not cooked before consumption. These kinds of food should be washed well before introducing to the mouth. Hands should also be washed before taking fruits.

Do not mix cooked foods with raw foods
The raw foods in question here might act as agents of contamination to the cooked food. Vibrio cholerae might find its way into the whole plate and cause sickness in the affected person.

This becomes more dangerous when you are buying food; say boiled rice and salad. The salad is always served cold. Cold food perpetuates transmission of Vibrio cholera.

Exclude infected persons from handling food
When they do, there is the high possibility of them leaving the bacterium on food for healthy others to consume and also suffer from cholera.

Wash vegetables and fruits
Wash vegetables and fruits in treated water before use or peel them if there is no water.

Treated water here can just be salt solution. There are certain washing agents that can clean vegetables and fruits and make them free of any cholera causing bacterium that might be lurking around them.

Discourage the habit of several people eating together from a communal food container.

Communal living (eating together) is a very important aspect of our socio-cultural heritage and should not be viewed as a bad thing.

The only time it should be discouraged is when there is an infected person among the people practicing the communal eating. He or she is very likely to spread the bacterium to the others sharing the plate or bowl with them.

Take hand washing seriously
Develop the habit of thorough hand washing after visiting the toilet anywhere. Hand washing is most beneficial if it is done under running water.

Make it a point to wash your hand first thing when you return home from town.

You can also pick the bacterium from infected door handles that you turn a countless number of times at work and other places.

Nail biters should begin to learn how to do away of that habit. Do not also lose sight of the many people you shake hands with in a day; as courtesy demands.

Treat your drinking water
Boiling water before drinking in areas where there is no treated water is a sure way of making water safe. Also, where the water you drink is treated; make sure it is treated well in a good and hygienic environment.

Be smart when buying food
Food can become contaminated with Vibrio cholerae from food handlers who are infected or from convalescent or asymptomatic carriers.

It is very dangerous to buy food from vendors who sell across gutters; here, the table they sell on has two of its “legs” on either side of the gutter with all sorts of things flowing through the gutter. Faeces even flows through some of these gutters.

There are others that use the same hand to collect the money and also dish out the food; say rice. If they are carrying the cholera causing bacterium, they are very likely to introduce it to their customers.

It could also be that the bacterium was brought by someone else through the cedi note that they used to pay for their food. The vendor then becomes a distributor of the bacterium that causes the cholera.

Watch out for vendors who wipe their spoons, their hand, their “take-away” among others in their apron. They are also highly capable of distributing the bacterium.

If a lot of us make it a point not to patronise food from those dirty vendors, they will soon be out of business and then learn their lessons well.

Let us be careful about what we eat so that we can prevent cholera from spreading.

Stay blessed. Remember to eat well and stay healthy.
Source: Daily Graphic

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