The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association wishes to advise members of the press stakeholders and its members on the suspected cholera cases that were recorded in the peri-Harare areas since last week.

Basic information (What is it, and who is at risk?) Cholera is a bacterial infection of the small intestines that is spread by unsafe water and contaminated food. It affects ALL age groups and is deadly if untreated. The commonest symptoms are watery diarrhoea (described as ‘rice water’) and dehydration. Symptoms usually begin a day or two after exposure to the bacteria but may develop even after five days. Other people may experience vomiting and abdominal cramps. Prevention (How does one prevent cholera?) Cholera can be prevented by practising basic sanitation. People are urged to use water from clean sources, and boil water from unsafe sources before use. Refuse should be disposed of well, in a designated area be it a pit or bin. The public is also encouraged to wash their hands with running water after using the toilet and to cover their food at all times. People should also use proper toilets and not the bush.

Treatment (What to do when you suspect that you have cholera) The dehydration from cholera can result in death within a few hours. If you suspect you have cholera, keep on oral fluids (sugar and salt solution: half level teaspoon of salt and 6 level teaspoons of sugar. in 1 litre of clean water) and report to your nearest health 5,55 immediately. Other members of that household should also be notified and be aware that they are at risk.

We hope these isolated cases of cholera will be contained to prevent an outbreak. We implore members of the public to work together and play their part in preventing cholera.