A FORMER Greendown School student is in Sierra Leone helping the British Red Cross tackle a cholera epidemic.

Anna Hirsch-Holland flew out to the African country yesterday as part of the British Red Cross emergency response team to battle the outbreak.

The disease, which has already infected more than 18,500 people and killed more than 270, is spreading rapidly with cholera cases reported in all 13 districts of the country.

The 25-year-old now lives in north London but says her family in Swindon are supporting her, if a bit anxious over her safety.

She said: “Cholera is a deadly disease and this devastating outbreak has already claimed hundreds of lives, but it is a curable disease.

“I am excited about the prospect, if a little bit nervous.

“Red Cross work to promote good hygiene practices and make sure people have access to clean drinking water.

“It is making a huge difference to communities, and succeeding in reducing the number of people infected.

“I am looking forward to supporting this vital work to stop the spread of this disease as quickly as possible.”

Anna will be helping to hand out cures for the disease, as well as educating people about good hygiene and drinking clean water.

She joins the Red Cross team of experts in hygiene promotion and sanitation to halt the rise in the number of people affected by the water-borne infection, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea and can kill within hours if left untreated.

The team will be supplying health facilities with cholera kits, raising awareness about cholera, including surveillance, good hygiene practices, and providing safe water through household water treatment and rehabilitating water points.

The Sierra Leone government officially declared a cholera outbreak in March.

For more information about the Red Cross visit www.redcross.org.uk.