The rains are here again! Farmers and indeed every Nigerian are excited.
But it comes with flooding, pollution of water sources, erosion and other unpleasant effects. Top on the list of unwanted effects are cholera and other water borne diseases.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera that can kill within hours if left untreated.
The water borne disease is already ravaging Adamawa State and some Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Northern Nigeria, leaving many dead.
Unfortunately, Most of those infected will have no or mild symptoms, and can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution.
Among people who develop symptoms, the majority has mild or moderate symptoms, while a minority develops acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration.
This can lead to death if left untreated. However, severe cases will need rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control the transmission of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
Oral cholera vaccines are an additional way to control cholera, but should not replace conventional control measures.
The bacterium V. cholerae infects between three million and five million people worldwide each year and kills up to 130,000 of them, mainly in low-income countries.
While vaccines have been developed, the ones in use have limited efficacy.
For example, the most commonly deployed vaccine—an orally administered killed cholera bacteria given in two doses, 14 days apart—protects adults reasonably well, but does not work in infants and children, possibly because of their immature immune systems or because existing enteric infections interfere with the vaccine.
The long waiting time between doses can also be problematic if trying to protect people during an ongoing epidemic.
A live vaccine, based on a weakened version of V. cholerae, also exists, but was developed from a strain of the bacteria isolated in the middle of the 20th century that is no longer globally dominant.
WHO noted that safe oral cholera vaccines should be used in conjunction with improvements in water and sanitation to control cholera outbreaks and for prevention in areas known to be high risk for cholera.
Consequently, scientists have validated natural products especially local herbs that could be used for water purification and the treatment of water borne diseases.
These plants include among others: Moringa oleifera, Neem (Azadirachta indica), Phyllanthus emblica (Ngwu in Ibo), Citrus sinensis (orange) peel, Hibiscus sabdariffa (Zobo), Abelmoschus esculentus (Okra/Lady’s Finger), Zea mays (maize/corn), Tamarindus indica/Dialium guineense (Black Tarmarind/Icheku in Ibo), corn pap (Ogi-tutu in Yoruba and Akamu in Ibo), Vernonia amygdalina (bitter leaf) and Psidium guajava (guava), local clay and activated charcoal.
Moringa oleifera seed as effective coagulant for water purification
A local plant, Moringa oleifera, found almost in every region of the country has been shown to be useful purifying water, treating malnutrition, boosting immunity, fighting microbes, and cancers.
Commonly known in the English language as the ben oil tree, the horseradish tree, or the drumstick tree, Moringa oleifera belongs to the plant family Moringaceae.
A recent study published in African Journal of Agricultural Research has validated the effectiveness of Moringa oleifera seed as coagulant for water purification.
The researchers from the University for Development Studies, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Department of Applied Chemistry and Biochemistry,
Navrongo, Ghana, found that powder from seed kernels of M. oleifera contains some coagulating properties at loading doses of 10 g/L and above that have similar effect as the conventional coagulum, alum.
This lends support to earlier findings of the use of powder processed from Moringa seeds as a coagulant in water purification system.
They concluded: “Moringa coagulum has an added advantage of having antimicrobial properties.
Considering the fact that Moringa coagulum can be locally produced, its use in water purification should be encouraged.
This is likely to reduce the high cost of the current water treatment systems.
“It is recommended that a combination treatment of alum and Moringa in different proportions be investigated to establish their effectiveness in treating raw water.”
They further explained: “The high cost of treated water makes most people in the rural communities to resort to readily available sources which are normally of low quality exposing them to waterborne diseases.
It is in this light that this research was carried out to confirm the effectiveness of powder extracted from mature-dried Moringa oleifera seeds, which is commonly available in most rural communities of Africa.
This was done using Completely Randomized Design with loading doses of 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 g/L of the powder processed from Moringa seeds, and aluminum sulphate (alum) as coagulant.
A control (water from the pond with only distilled water without alum and Moringa treatments) was also included. The turbidity, pH, and conductivity and total coliform were determined for all the samples.
The turbidity for the samples ranged from log100.30 to log101.36NTU while the conductivity ranged from log102.29 to log102.72 µS/cm.
The 12-g/L treatment of Moringa and 10 and 12 g/L alum treatments gave values that are acceptable according to the WHO guidelines for safe drinking water.
“The control sample gave the higher extremes values which are unacceptable.
The pH values (7.29 to 7.89) obtained for the treatments were in the recommended range set by the WHO.
The Most Probable Number per 100 ml for total coliform counts had values from 2 to 17 at 95 per cent confidence limits.
The Moringa treatment gave lower counts. Findings of this research lend support to earlier works recommending the use of Moringa for water treatment.”
Neem tree extract to treat cholera and diarrheoa
Indian scientists from Presidency University and University of Calcutta have provided scientific support to the uses of neem employed by the indigenous people for the treatment of diarrheoa and cholera.
The study titled “Antibacterial, antisecretory and antihemorrhagic activity of Azadirachta indica used to treat cholera and diarrhea in India” was published in Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
The researchers noted: “Indigenous uses of Azadirachta indica (neem) leaves in different parts of India for curing gastrointestinal disorder such as diarrheoa and cholera is wide spread.
The objective of the present study was to evaluate the antibacterial and antisecretory activity of neem extract against Vibrio cholerae, a causative agent of watery diarrheoa such as cholera.
The methanol extract of neem leaf was tested for its antibacterial, antisecretory and antihemorrhagic activity against Vibrio cholerae.
“Azadirachta indica extract had significant antibacterial activity against the multi-drug-resistant Vibrio cholerae of serotypes O1, O139 and non-O1, non-O139.
The minimum inhibitory concentration reached by 50 per cent (MIC50) and 90 per cent (MIC90), and minimum bactericidal concentration for the extract were 2.5, > 5, and 10 mg/ml, respectively.
“Neem extract showed antisecretory activity on Vibrio cholerae induced fluid secretion in mouse intestine with inhibition values of 27.7 per cent, 41.1 per cent, 43.3 per cent, 57.0 per cent, and 77.9 per cent at doses of 100, 200, 300, 450 and 1800 mg/kg, respectively.
Oral administration of the extract inhibited hemorrhage induced by Vibrio cholerae in mouse intestine at a dose > or = 300 mg/kg…”
Scent leaf stops diarrhoea.