Cholera: transmission, symptoms, prevention… everything you need to know about the disease plaguing Mayotte

Cholera: transmission, symptoms, prevention… everything you need to know about the disease plaguing Mayotte

L’homme peut être infecté lorsqu’il boit de l’eau ou mange des aliments contaminés. ILLUSTRATION PIXABAY

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacillus Vibrio cholerae. Twenty-six cases have been recorded in Mayotte. We take stock of the modes of transmission and the symptoms of the disease.

Faced with the increase in the number of cholera cases, which has doubled in two days in Mayotte, the Regional Health Agency, the prefecture and the Mayotte hospital center announce in a press release published this Sunday, April 28, a reinforced system "in order to ensure the care of all sick people".

Since the start of the cholera alert in Mayotte, where the first case was detected on March 19, a total of 26 cases have been confirmed on the island. A previous report reported 13 cases the day before.

A disease that can kill in a few hours

Cholera is an acute form of diarrhea that can kill within hours and is transmitted by bacteria generally transmitted through contaminated water or food.

"The bacilli, or cholera vibrios, secrete cholera toxin into the intestine, which causes loss of water and moisture. electrolytes (up to 15-20 liters per day), specifies the Ministry of Health.

Most infected people have few or no symptoms, although the bacillus can be found in their stools for one to two weeks. In the event of illness, 80 to 90% of episodes are mild or moderately severe and it is then difficult to distinguish them clinically from other types of acute diarrhea. The bacteria can thus circulate at low noise.

Less than 20 % of patients develop all the typical symptoms of cholera, with abundant watery diarrhea and vomiting, leading to moderate to severe dehydration (50  % of symptomatic cases), most often without fever.

High population concentrations, associated with poor environmental hygiene and poor sanitation, can favor the appearance and development of cholera epidemics.

Treatment and prevention

The treatment of cholera essentially consists of compensating for digestive losses of water and electrolytes. Depending on the extent of dehydration, rehydration is done orally or intravenously.

Antibiotic therapy can be useful in certain serious cases, making it possible to reduce the volume and duration of diarrhea as well as the period of excretion of the vibrio in the stools, but multi strains resistant may appear. If left untreated, death can occur within 1 to 3 days. Mortality is higher among children, the elderly and vulnerable individuals.

There is no specific active vaccine against Vibrio cholerae serogroup O139. On the other hand, identified people from the second circle and staff working with patients or in areas affected by an epidemic can benefit from an anti-cholera vaccine (against different Vibrio cholerae O1 strains and a B subunit of the recombinant cholera toxin).

A new medical unit opened in Mayotte

"To avoid or contain a cholera epidemic, the population must be able to have access to drinking water for drinking, washing, cooking , etc. However, this is not the case in Mayotte since 18% of the population does not have access to drinking water at home, Manon Gallego, France director of the NGO Solidarités International, recently recalled in a press release.

To avoid the risks of contamination or transmission of the disease, the ARS calls on the population to observe hygiene measures such as drinking controlled water and washing regularly hands.

The health authorities announced the opening of a second cholera unit within the Dzoumogné reference medical center. Furthermore, the Regional Health Agency has strengthened its field interventions and created a screening and orientation center.

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