Let me tell you some facts about it, since there seems to be a lot of inaccurate information out there. (ie the news!!) Here are just some quick bullet points:
~It’s a bacteria. It grows in your small intestine and “blows up” your water cells, which is why you get dehydrated so quickly.
~Cholera can only be contracted by ingesting water with cholera in it. The amount is unclear, simply because it depends on how much cholera is in that water. It could take 1 cup if it’s bad, it could take gallons if there isn’t much cholera in that sample.
~ That means, it is NOT airborne or spread through direct contact. We shower with city water, and we have already been chlorinating our water-the chlorine kills most nasty things in the water- which means that our water is safer, plus the small amounts that might get in our eyes, nose, ears, etc are not a problem.
~It can be contracted from eating food (ie vegetables) with cholera on them, but a few hours of sunshine also kills cholera. Also, we have always dunked our veggies and things in a bucket of bleach water… ya know.. to kill the bad stuff and all the good stuff too! Ah well..
~Cholera is a very preventable disease. However, not necessarily in a country like Haiti. They don’t have water systems like we do (our water is treated in the states), so once cholera gets into the “city water” that is a huge problem. In addition, most people are not educated. Not only are they not educated about cholera, but even when you tell them how it works and what to do/not do, some simply do not listen.
~Because of poor water systems, lack of education, and poverty cholera can become a big problem quickly. Many people here (including nurses) are walking around with masks on, and yet they are the same people drinking the city water. If you detect cholera quickly, it can be easily treated-by drugs and hydration.
~Cholera is treated by re-dhyrating the person. This can be done orally, or if they can’t stop vomiting, it is done through an IV. In severe cases, they can be given an anti-biotic to help kill off the bacteria.
~A sad realization is that if you simply add beach to your water, or boil it for two minutes, the cholera is killed. And yet, very poor people here cannot afford to purchase the extra charcoal to heat water, or afford the needed bleach.
My point in telling you this is two fold. First, please pray. Please continue to pray for Haiti. Please pray that the necessary doctors, experts, and help will arrive to stop this before it continues to spread so quickly. And that Haitians will trust those who tell them how to prevent sickness. Secondly, please don’t worry! This is mainly directed at our loved ones who I know you guys hear and read the news and are wondering if we’re okay. Yes, we are. We are taking every preventative measure to make sure we don’t get it, and we are helping in any way possible so our neighbors don’t either.