BAHAMAS SETS UP CHOLERA SCREENING
(The Tribune) - By Noelle Nicolls
BAHAMIAN emergency agencies have been put on high alert following the outbreak of cholera in Haiti.
Local health services have started emergency medical screening at Bahamian airports and seaports to respond to the outbreak of the deadly disease that has so far claimed more than 250 lives in Haiti.
Passengers travelling to and from Haiti and the Dominican Republic may be subject to airport screenings or medical surveys.
International travellers who have been to either destinations are being advised to contact a health centre if they experience symptoms such as stomach aches or diarrhea.
After being alerted by the Pan American Health Organisation on Friday that it received laboratory confirmation of cases of Cholera in Haiti, local emergency response services assembled a team to create a preventative strategy for the Bahamas.
There is no "immediate threat" to the Bahamas at this time, according to Dr Hubert Minnis, Minister of Health.
"There are no cases of cholera or suspected cases of cholera in The Bahamas at this time," he said.
However, the authorities have developed response plans in the event that the disease is imported into the Bahamas.
"The Water and Sewerage Corporation confirms that the government has adequate supplies of safe clean water. Its Water Quality Laboratory conducts routine sampling and analyses of water following well established protocols. The public is advised that tap water is safe to drink," said Dr Minnis.
"The Ministry of Health currently has medicines and supplies in stock to cover initial treatment needs. Educational materials are being developed to promote good hygiene and safe food handling practices. These messages will be in English and Creole," he said.
Cholera is a disease caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with faeces or infective material.
The symptoms include "the abrupt onset of profuse, painless watery diarrhea (rice water stools), with nausea and vomiting early in the disease." Untreated, it can result in severe dehydration or death within hours.
Efforts in the Ministry of Health are currently focused on preventing the introduction of the disease.
The public is advised to use clean water and maintain good hygiene practices.
When preparing food either wash, peel, shell and/or cook thoroughly.