Cholera – Here Are The Symptoms And Treatment

Cholera - Here Are The Symptoms And Treatment

What is Cholera?

Cholera is an infectious disease caused by bacterium Vibrio cholera, which is characterized by smelly diarrhea that resembles rice water, vomiting, and severe dehydration.

Cholera affects about 3-5 million people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is spread by the intake of contaminated waters and foods which have been contaminated by human feces containing Vibrio cholera ( the fecal-oral route of transmission). It is a fatal disease that can lead to death within hours if not treated with urgency.

Who is affected by cholera?

Cholera affects only humans. Some of its risk factors are:

  • Dirty drinking water (semi-clean water)
  • Uncooked or undercooked seafood.
  • Poverty 
  • Poor sanitation (e.g., wash hands after using the toilet)
  • Overcrowded camps
  • Traveling to regions where cholera can be transmitted

What are the symptoms of cholera?

Here are the signs and symptoms of cholera: 

  • Severe diarrhea (watery rice water stool with a fishy odor)
  • Severe vomiting of clear fluid ( The vomiting can last for hours)
  • Dehydration (The manifestations of cholera dehydration include: Sunken eyeballs, Dry mucous membrane, extreme thirst, cold clammy skin, and Wrinkled hands and feet
  • Kussmaul breathing (deep labored breathing)
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Oliguria (low output of urine)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Seizures 
  • Altered mental state
  • Constant feeling of weakness in the muscles
  • Abdominal pain

How is cholera diagnosed?

  • The patient’s history, complaints, findings on physical examination, a rapid dipstick test for the presence of Vibrio cholera, and a stool sample for laboratory investigations are enough to make the diagnosis.

How is cholera treated?

  • Oral rehydration solution, electrolyte replacement, and antibiotics are the mainstay of treatments:
  • First-line antibiotics used is Doxycycline
  • Other antibiotics that can be used are Cotrimoxazole, Erythromycin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and ciprofloxacin.
  • Cholera can be prevented by taking cholera vaccines, good personal hygiene, intake of clean water, and foods.

Is Cholera Dangerous?

If cholera is left untreated, it can be so fatal in a few hours due to severe dehydration, acute renal failure, myocardial infarction, shock, and possible lack of oxygen. 

How to prevent cholera

Prevention of cholera requires hygiene measures such as:

  • Wash your hands with soap before eating
  • Thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits under a running water
  • Drink only boiled or clean water
  • Wash hands after toilet
  • Avoid sushi, as well as raw fish 
  • Have a cholera vaccine

For more information about cholera, you should talk to your physician.