What you need to know about cholera
Prevent the spread, know the symptoms and stay protected
Since the cholera outbreak was declared in Syria on 10 September 2022, thousands of cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been reported.
Both adults and children are at risk of contracting the disease, but children often bear the brunt of severe illness and death. Of the suspected cholera cases, 1 out of 4 are children under the age of five. When children get sick and their immune system weakens, they become more susceptible to malnutrition. Malnourished children are similarly at heightened risk of getting severely ill.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.
To keep children safe, UNICEF continues to invest in preventive measures and scale up a rapid response to curb the spread of the disease and limit its negative impacts. UNICEF is mobilizing health, water, hygiene, and sanitation supplies, and expertise in the affected governorates. Chlorination activities to disinfect water are being scaled up and dosing rates are being increased in fragile and highly vulnerable communities to curb the spread of the disease. Clean water is also being trucked to affected locations. UNICEF is also engaging with communities and sharing information about the causes, symptoms, and prevention of cholera.
UNICEF also continues its work to rehabilitate water and sanitation systems across the country and make health and nutrition services available to children as part of the efforts to address the root causes of the disease outbreak and give all children a fair chance to survive and thrive.
How to protect yourself
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
Drink clean water
Collect waste in waste bags and place them in the relevant spot
Wash vegetables and fruits well before eating them and cook food well
Disinfect vegetables that are eaten raw with the available disinfectants
Disinfect surfaces, floors, furniture and toilets effectively with water and chlorine
Symptoms of cholera
Severe watery diarrhoea
Immediately seek medical assistance if symptoms occur
Drink enough water and fluids
Use oral rehydration solution immediately and in quantities suitable to the severity of infection
Dissolve ½ tsp salt + 6 tsp sugar in 1 litre of clean water to make an oral rehydration solution
Washing fruit and vegetables
Scrub fruit and vegetables under clean running water
Preferably, use a brush to ensure dust, dirt and bacteria are removed
Rinse fruit and vegetables thoroughly with water after cleaning them with disinfectants
Soak vegetables that are eaten raw in disinfectants for about 10 minutes
Preferably, peel fruit and vegetables after washing and cleaning them
Wet hands with running water
Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
Scrub all surfaces of the hands, including back of hands
Scrub between fingers of the left hand
Scrub between fingers of the right hand
Scrub under nails
Rinse hands thoroughly with running water
Dry hands with a clean cloth or single-use towel
Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially:
- Before preparing food, eating, and caring for a child
- After using the toilet
- After caring for a patient