Major Cholera Control Program launched as new cases spread into Siaya
WHAT: CARE will mobilize 3 million shillings ($50,000 US) from a special CARE Emergency Fund to combat the growing cholera epidemic in western Kenya. CARE will purchase I.V. fluids, oral rehydration salts and antibiotics, and will partner with the Ministry of Health to send teams of health workers into the countryside to educate Kenyans on cholera prevention measures.
WHERE: The new CARE Cholera Control Program will operate in the six hardest-hit districts of Kenya, including Migori, Homa Bay, Rachuonyo, Kisumu District and previously untouched Siaya (where the first cholera cases were spotted only this week). The outbreak is linked to a regional epidemic threatening millions in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In Kenya, as many as four million people are at risk, 3,431 show signs of illness and nearly 10% of those -- 281 people -- have died since June.
CHOLERA: Cholera is caused by a bacteria spread by contact with contaminated food or water. Once ingested, the bacteria settles in the small intestines, releasing toxins that cause rapid dehydration through vomiting and diarrhea. CARE staff in the Kisumu/Siaya area report seeing cholera patients die from dehydration in as little as three hours. "This outbreak has spread persistently district by district," reports CARE health expert Dan Wendo. "It is moving around Lake Victoria heading straight towards Uganda. If we don't stop it our greatest fear is that it will become endemic. That would be very dangerous, very risky." Cholera's chief danger is many people contract the bacteria without ever showing signs of illness -- and then spread the bacteria to others. "The reality is that although a small proportion of people might get sick, many more can carry the bacteria. And everywhere those carriers go, they risk bringing illness to those around them." says Wendo.
° To avoid infection, CARE staff advise all Kenyans to:
° Dig and use pit latrines
° Boil or chlorinate all drinking water
° Chlorinate water sources
° Wash hands before eating and after using a latrine
° Seek medical help immediately if vomiting or diarrhea occur
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