Kellers in Africa

our life in Zambia

Category: Health

A list of things that you shouldn’t do…

during a cholera outbreak:

Wait… what is cholera? If you need to ask this question, you should send up a little prayer of thanks for God’s grace in modern civilization and sanitation! Cholera is a disease of poverty, filth, and ignorance.

Oh yeah, and bacteria. But it LOVES poverty, filth, and ignorance.

 

Photo by MicrobiologyOnline.org

It spreads rapidly through any water-based medium.

Water is everywhere…

Photo by Open.edu

The infection is horrible.

Not. Fun.

Photo by EMS-Solution Inc

 

Which brings us back to…. a list of things you should NOT do in a cholera outbreak:

Shake hands

Cholera is a bacterial disease spread by contact with infected human waste and body fluids… which have a tendency to come in contact with hands. (EW.)

This is a cultural issue in Zambia as greeting one another and shaking hands goes beyond courtesy here- it is vital to maintaining relationships. People often hold hands (even if they are not much more than strangers) as they talk as a means of establishing connection in the conversation. After a church service, as you walk out the door, everyone forms a line and shakes hands with everyone else. 

 

Eat raw vegetables

Most vegetables in market places here are washed in… the latrine area. Not even kidding. You know where that water has been?! If you buy fruits or vegetables for cooking they have to be sanitized first. And sanitize them well.

There are no “facilities” so vegetables are washed  in whatever water is available.

So if you take these veggies home:

 

 

Eat fast food/street food

There are no public toilet areas, no sinks, no sanitation. No hair nets, no hand sanitizer, no food-safe containers. If that guy is carrying cholera… so are his snacks.

Hand washing and food handling… not a “thing” with street food

Drink water that hasn’t been boiled or treated

Even bottled water isn’t safe if you aren’t certain that the bottling company isn’t just “purifying” it (as opposed to treating it). And in Africa all bets are off on that one!

Boil it or bleach it. (Yes, we drink bleach water. Lovely.)

 

Go to church/school/public meetings

For now, all public meetings have been suspended in outbreak areas. This is mostly due to ignorance about how cholera spreads. Most people in compounds don’t realize that not washing hands,  sharing food, shaking hands, sharing toilets, etc can spread this disease. It isn’t a strictly necessary measure to stop the disease… but it helps people realize how serious and necessary the sanitation measures are.

An infected person who hasn’t washed their hands and then shakes hands, hugs, handles food, washes/drinks with communal water can infect a whole community.

Some of these areas are already affected by dirty drinking water, infected latrines, etc. You know what that means?

Stop Helping Others

(remember these are things you shouldn’t do!) The time to help is NOW. Time to educate on health and sanitation, to install proper water pumps on boreholes (deep wells with pumps instead of shallow hand-dugs that are easily infected), to help families with infected bread-winners, teach children about microbes, to encourage and support clean up in the slums. Can’t do that from where you are sitting because you live in a country NOT affected by cholera? Educate your kids about this disease and how it impacts third world countries. Support people engaged in dealing with the situation (we need short term solutions like clean up and long term solutions like education and water pumps).

PRAY FOR THE AFFECTED FAMILIES.

Education

Empowerment & Aid

Panic

Think Ebola Zombie Apocalypse 2014. No don’t. Don’t even go there! This is a simple bacterial infection. It is so easy to treat that WHO and the CDC don’t even hand out antibiotics for it. That’s right: electrolytes (in treated water) and rest take care of this disease almost without exception. Extreme cases occur when the sick person continues to be exposed (got sick from infected water and continues drinking the same water).

Soooo… you don’t have to worry that cholera zombies are going to be arriving at your local airport.

However… this disease is impacting the lives of millions of people across the world. Without education and empowerment to change their lives, cholera will continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people (most of them children) every year.

 

Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Psalm 82:3

 

Ebola: Uncensored

Warning: Contains extreme snark.

 

This post is motivated by my continuing frustration with the worldwide (and maybe particularly the American) media.  They report what “sells papers” in a way that makes you…. want to buy more papers.  Or read more or watch more or buy more…………. You get the idea.

After several kind and concerned inquiries, it has come to our attention that we should clear up a matter of concern:

No, we do not have ebola.

No, we will not bring it with us on the plane and release it on the innocent and unsuspecting public.

First of all, we are thousands of miles away from the “ebola nations”.  Zambia sees little to no traffic from there.  Actually, most of Europe is closer to Liberia than we are!

Two African countries have beaten the virus and have been officially declared Disease Free through stringent international protocols.

Very interesting to contemplate:

#1: WHO and the CDC have not released either the stat report of deaths that coincided with HIV+ patients,­ or the ages of the persons who died.  (And if any of you can find that information for me, I would be extremely grateful- I have tried!) While ebola would obviously still be the “cause of death” it would be very significant, especially from a containment and treatment standpoint, to know how many of the afflicted/fatalities fall into these extreme risk categories.

#2: while the media is getting a total joy ride out of fear mongering the public, the WHO and the CDC have realized that the threat of infection is extremely SMALL.  Think I’m lying?  Go check the US State Department Travel alerts!  These are probably the most stringent and paranoid alerts in the world.  Traveling to Liberia?  Don’t plan on touching any dead bodies?  Your threat level today will be: LOW.  No joke.  You should look it up.  Even I was surprised.  Now, I’m not exactly signing up for a cruise off the West African Coast any time soon… but it did allay my fears that “we’re all gonna die!” 😛

 

This is WHO's official release that goes along with international standards of infectious diseases and how they spread.

This is WHO’s official release that goes along with international standards of infectious diseases and how they spread.

 

The “takeaway”?

Some people are getting sick- really, REALLY sick.  Some people are dying.  Let’s join together to pray for the brave men and women who are risking their lives to physically serve those afflicted with ebola.  THAT is a grave health risk and the ultimate act of selfless service.  Let’s pray for the families who are left behind after the death of a loved one.

 

Sometimes God gives us incredible opportunities to serve others- serve Him in amazing ways. Pray for those you have responded to the call to serve the dying in West Africa.

Sometimes God gives us incredible opportunities to serve others- serve Him- in amazing ways. Pray for those who have responded to the call to serve the dying in West Africa.

 

And when I come to the US next month, you don’t need to go into hiding, run in fear, or secretly bathe in hand sanitizer.  In fact… you might want to save that for your European friends.  They are much, much closer to Liberia than I am!

 

 

 

 

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