Cholera – What is it and what are its symptoms?

 
Cholera is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium Vibrio Cholerae. Cholera leads to a severe dehydrating diarrhea, and it is one of major causes of death among children younger than 5 years old.

HOW IS CHOLERA TRANSMITTED?


Cholera is transmitted by fecal-oral-route. It means that bacteria found in feces of an infected individual can be transferred to another person if they touch infected feces and then touch their mouth. Bacteria can also be present in environmental water, and you might get ill if you drink it. Infected individuals can transmit the disease to others, and they remain contagious for up to 14 days.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE IT?

Cholera should be suspected if anyone older than 2 years old develops acute and severe watery diarrhea, especially in areas that are known to have cholera. A person infected by cholera develops severe diarrhea, which can reach amounts of 1L per hour. Stools over time change an appearance; they begin to look as if there is rice floating in water. Other signs and symptoms include vomiting, abdominal discomfort and cramping. As a result, severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance occur from fluid loss. Ill persons develop sunken eyeballs, dry mouths, cold clammy skin, become lethargic and very weak. Children might faint or experience seizures.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE IF YOU HAVE THESE SYMPTOMS

It is extremely important to seek urgent medical care, because there are 50% death rates in untreated people with cholera. Getting necessary treatment decreases mortality to 1%. Treatment of cholera focuses on rehydration. As soon as a person is able to drink he or she will be given rehydrating fluids that are rich in electrolytes. Intravenous fluids will be given in cases when a sick individual is not capable of drinking or is vomiting. After fluid losses are restored, antibiotics will be given because they help to shorten the duration of diarrhea.

THERE ARE WAYS TO AVOID GETTING CHOLERA

There are ways to reduce your risk of getting ill. You should boil water for at least a minute before drinking it. A simple procedure of filtering water through a clean cloth before drinking it can decrease a transmission of cholera by 50%. Wash your hands with clean (previously boiled) water and soap before eating, and after taking care of a person who has diarrhea. Also, food should be cooked well (fried or boiled), especially seafood. Lastly, there are vaccinations available against cholera, and they are effective in about 75% of cases.

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Marwin Ramos

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