The Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) North Lebanon Campus (NLC) held a hybrid seminar on cholera prevention, titled “Cholera Outbreak in Lebanon,” organized by the Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences (FNHS). Under the Faculty’s ongoing “FNHS Cares” series, the seminar hosted speakers from various disciplines to provide a comprehensive view of the virus, namely, Dr. Mona Youssef, Dr. Salam Samad, and Mr. Ralph Deeb to discuss how individuals and institutions can help mitigate infection and transmission.
The NLC’s FNHS coordinator, Dr. Samar Merhi, welcomed the guests, introduced the program, and moderated the talk in the presence of faculty, staff, and students. The seminar began with Dr. Youssef, Infectious Disease Specialist at Haykel Hospital, who explained that cholera transmission occurs almost exclusively via contaminated water, or otherwise through food with fecal matter. The first lines of treatment according to Dr. Youssef are rehydration and fluid therapy, as antibiotics are only administered in moderate to severe cases.
Dr. Samad, Head of the Laboratory and Blood Bank Departments at Centre Hospitalier du Nord, spoke next about the different diagnostic methods, including the vital laboratory techniques that were employed to confirm the first reported cases in Lebanon.
Though cholera has its treatment methods, it is vital that individuals be made aware that it can be avoided with little to no inconvenience. Mr. Deeb, representing the Lebanese Red Cross’s Disaster Management Unit and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Koura, highlighted poor hand hygiene and water and food contamination as the greatest risk factors for infection.
Mr. Deeb added that a cholera vaccine is available; despite a worldwide shortage, Lebanon was able to secure 600,000 shots of Euvichol Plus, an oral spray vaccine administered to anyone above 1 year of age, including pregnant women.
Ultimately, however, cholera’s spread can largely be attributed to poor sewage infrastructure and filtering, facilitating cross-contamination in irrigation and drinking water in Lebanon. Until such systemic change can be implemented, individual efforts to maintain the appropriate hygiene practices, sanitizing all water and foodstuffs of contamination and fecal matter, and avoiding drinking tap water. For more information, the FNHS has set up a comprehensive guideline for cholera prevention, easy to access, download, and share.