07 December, 2008


After reading about the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, one must wonder about the potential risk of such an occurrence in T&T. It is low, but still possible. Prudence dictates that we prepare.

Between August and 30 November 2008 the World Health Organisation has reported over 11,700 cases with 473 recorded deaths. A case fatality rate (CFR) of 4%. The WHO has set a target of under 1% CFR.

Treatment is usually oral re-hydration therapy along with an antibiotic. Tetracycline is most commonly used as the primary antibiotic. There are drug-resistant strains, but rapid diagnostic assay methods are available for the identification of multi-drug resistant Vibrio cholerae.
If treated in time, the mortality rate is less than 1%, but left untreated, it escalates dramatically to 50-60%. The life cycle of the bacterium is five days.

One should err on the side of caution and consider–– if not cholera, at least some other nasty motile organisms––in one’s preparedness plans. Safe, clean, drinkable water is vital for life. Stockpiling more water purification equipment and materials would be advisable.
Household bleach, water purification tablets, boiling, water filters etc are all very effective in making water safe for drinking. Bleach has a short shelf life, so rotate emergency stocks frequently.

Store more than you need, so you can dispense charity.

- Trini Funshooter

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