Hygiene saves lives

You will not contract cholera if you practise basic hygiene.

You will not contract cholera if you practise basic hygiene.

Wash your hands; boil drinking, washing or cooking water before using it; and avoid water from contaminated streams.

The health department in Limpopo, centre of the cholera epidemic that spread from Zimbabwe late last year, yesterday said it was losing the war against the disease.

But the department's spokesperson Phuti Seloba reminded citizens again that these three simple measures could save their lives.

Cholera is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium, often spread by victims' faeces. It kills by causing extreme diarrhoea, which dehydrates victims in hours.

Fortunately, the disease is easily treated with antibiotics and rehydration. But any victim who does not receive immediate medical attention can be dead in a day.

No doubt the government must throw whatever resources are needed by the water, sanitation and health authorities to contain infected waterways and to treat victims. Cash-strapped municipal and provincial authorities have not coped with the emergency.

But citizens also have a role to play, whatever the inconvenience, until the government gets its act together.

And all they need do is follow the basic rules of hygiene we learn in primary school.