District hospitals in areas bordering Burundi are on high alert after reports of a cholera outbreak in the neighbouring country.
Media reports in Burundi indicate that 400 cases had been diagnosed while seven deaths have been confirmed.
The biggest number of cholera cases has been reported in Rugombo and Mabayi communes of Cibitoke Province near Bugarama Sector in the Western Province of Rwanda.
In an interview with The New Times yesterday, Dr. Thierry Nyatanyi, the head of Disease Prevention and Control of other Epidemic Infectious Diseases at RBC/ Institute of HIV/AIDS, said that district hospitals and health centres have been put on alert.
“We have sent messages to those areas asking them to be extra vigilant and to scrutinise all patients with suspected cholera symptoms,” Nyatanyi said.“We haven’t got any cholera cases yet.”
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhoea and vomiting. Transmission is primarily through consuming contaminated drinking water or food.
According to Dr. Simon Rock Nyagasaza, a physician at Kanombe Military Hospital, cholera primarily originates from faecal contamination of food and water due to poor hygiene.
He says that its spread is favoured by the concentration of many people in one unhygienic place. He observes that the disease is common in congested areas like camps.
Egide Gatera, the Executive Secretary of Bugarama Sector which borders Burundi, said that they are creating awareness among the general public about the epidemic and sensitising them on how to avoid it in case it spreads to Rwanda.
In Burundi, the outbreak is said to be caused by lack of clean water prevailing in the affected areas due to drought. The first cholera cases were reported in mid August.