Cape Town - Zambia's capital, Lusaka has been on alert for cholera since the end of September, however a recent increase in the reported number of cases has seen the country's department of health institute a nighttime curfew for certain areas to curb the spread of the disease.
African News Agency reports that travel restrictions will focus on travel in and out of the capital. Residents are urged to stay indoors from 18:00. Reuters reports that the main passport offices in Lusaka have also been closed and will only be attending to emergency travel matters.
According to Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya, Zambia has recorded over 2 672 new cases since the disease broke out. The cumulative death toll is 61. On Tuesday, 9 January Chilufya stated "114 new cases had been recorded in 24 hours bringing the total to 2 672 since the disease broke out. See News24's full coverage here.
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John Ridler, spokesperson for Thompsons told Traveller24, "At present, the bulk of outbreaks have occurred in Kanyama, an informal shack township on the outskirts of Lusaka. The cause is related to the lack of sanitation and poor hygiene at the local fresh food market. The authorities are working on cleaning up the market and have banned the sale of street food in the township."
According to Ridler the curfew is to be introduced from Sunday in "Kanyama township from dusk to dawn to prevent gatherings where the disease can be spread".
"At present, the tourism authorities are not placing any restrictions on travel," says Riddler.
ALSO SEE: Kenya issues alert over cholera in Nairobi
Desmond O’Connor, Head of Kulula Holidays confirmed to Traveller24 the holiday and leisure provider is monitoring the situation closely but that travellers should not be concerned as yet. Livingstone as the main tourist entry point remains unaffected.
"As Kulula Holidays only operates into Livingstone in Zambia, we are unaffected at this stage, and everything is all systems go as per normal.
"We are getting continuous updates from the relevant parties and will respond if the need arises," he says.
What it is cholera?
Cholera is a water-borne diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated but is easily cured with oral rehydration, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
According to Health24, this disease can be contracted when people drink water or eat food that has been fecally contaminated by the bacteria.
What are the symptoms?
World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that cholera is an extremely virulent disease that can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea.
It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show symptoms after ingesting contaminated food or water.
Most people infected with cholera do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their faeces for 1-10 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.
Among people who develop symptoms, the majority have mild or moderate symptoms, while a minority develop acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration.
The most common sources where cholera is found
Health24 reports that well water, seafood, raw fruits, vegetables are grains are the most common sources where the disease can be found.
Surface or well water
Cholera bacteria can lie dormant in water for long periods, and contaminated public wells are frequent sources of large-scale cholera outbreaks.
Eating raw or uncooked seafood especially shellfish from certain locations can expose you to cholera.
Raw fruits and vegetables
Raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables are a source of infection on areas where cholera is endemic. In developing nations, uncomposted manure fertilizers or irrigation water containing raw sewage can contaminate produce in the field. They may also become tainted with cholera during harvesting or processing.
In cholera endemic regions grains such as rice and millet are contaminated after cooking and allowed to remain at room temperature for several hours become a medium for the growth of bacteria.
How do I prevent cholera?
WHO has found that the prevention and preparedness of cholera requires a coordinated multidisciplinary approach.
Measures for the prevention of cholera mostly consist of providing clean water and proper sanitation to populations who do not yet have access to basic services.
Health education and good food hygiene are equally important.
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