At that time, the outbreak exceeded 200,000 suspected cases, increasing at an average of 5,000 a day. In just a few months, cholera had spread to almost every governorate in Yemen. Since the oubreak began, more than 1,300 people had died – one quarter of them children – and, at the time of this writing, the death toll was expected to rise.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development. Researchers have estimated that every year there are roughly 1.3 to 4.0 million cases, and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths worldwide due to cholera.
Cholera is an easily treatable disease. In most cases, those infected will have no symptoms or mild symptoms, and can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution. Severe cases, however, will need rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
SBCC campaigns are implemented to promote the adoption of appropriate hygiene practices such as hand-washing with soap, safe preparation and storage of food and safe disposal of the faeces of children. Funeral practices for individuals who die from cholera must be adapted to prevent infection among attendees.
During outbreaks, campaigns can be organized and information should be provided to the community about the potential risks and symptoms of cholera, precautions to avoid cholera, when and where to report cases and to seek immediate treatment when symptoms appear. The location of appropriate treatment sites should also be shared.
This Trending Topic provides tools for health communication as well as samples of SBCC materials from projects worldwide.
Photo: A young girl in Kolkata, India, stands by her family’s cholera-contaminated water supply. © 2009 Chelsea Solmo, Courtesy of Photoshare