Cholera in Angola
Got this message just the other day from a friend who lives in Luanda, Angola.
For travellers heading this way; check carefully what to do and what not to do before you go there !!!
The number of cases of cholera in Angola continues to increase. As of 2 May
2006, Angola has reported a total of 26176 cumulative cases and 1069 deaths
in 10 out of the 18 provinces. The affected provinces are - Bengo,
Benguela, Bie, Kuanza Norte, Kuanza Sul, Luanda, Huambo, Huila, Malanje,
and Zaire. Due to the continued heavy rains and spread of the disease, it
is assumed we have not yet reached the peak of the outbreak.
UNICEF, WHO, the Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Ministry of Energy and
Water are leading the response to the outbreak. The National Cholera Task
Force have taken the following actions:
Monitoring and support to comprehensive control measures to protect
the population from the consequences of the epidemic underway.
Temporary cholera control treatment centres established, with medical
supplies for case management and technical guidance provided.
Chlorination of water supplies at the point of source and also at
community distribution points.
Provision of safe water distribution points.
Capacity building of health staff underway for provision of treatment
in the six provinces already affected, and for preventive remedies in
all other provinces nationwide.
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, UNICEF is taking the lead
in procurement of emergency water and medical supplies, and in social
communication activities. MSF and MDM are taking the lead in support for
emergency case management and treatment centres. UNICEF is supporting MSF
through provision of supplies to run treatment centres.
BP has agreed to a donation of $50,000 to aid UNICEF in provision of some
of these supplies. We are also defining other areas where we can be of
assistance to potentially exposed staff.
The Level II travel status for Angola remains unchanged.
Please do not become complacent - be sure you know how to protect yourself
and your families by referring to the previous communications put out by
the HSE Team enclosed below and/or contacting Hazel or any of the BU Health
team members for specific assistance.
I am not a medical doctor or a health care worker (I'm an aircraft pilot), but having made that disclaimer, I'd like to point out that cholera is not too great a threat to European travellers who are passing through cholera infested areas.
As long as you are reasonably careful about the water you drink (from a bottle, or passed through a Katadyn filter, or with a purification tablet put in it), and you are careful about the food you eat, and you wash your hands, the risk of a healthy traveller getting cholera is pretty low.
I've been into South Sudan frequently during the past month (ironically, to help out aid efforts directed at the cholera epidemic there), and I'm not at all concerned about catching cholera. Mind you, if I had to live for a week in a refugee camp, drinking the pond water they drink, or drinking water that came from a borehole that was 6 feet away from a latrine - I would be worried.
Another way of looking at it is this: All the things you normally would do to avoid getting travellers diarrhea are exactly the same things you need to do to avoid getting cholera.
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