Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea, leading to dehydration and even fatality, if left untreated. The cholera bacterium is often found in water or food items contaminated by faeces from people infected with cholera germs. Cholera is most prone to occur and spread in areas with poor water treatment, sanitation, and hygiene. Cholera bacteria can also be found in brackish rivers and coastal waterways. Raw shellfish have been found as a source of infection.
Symptoms of Cholera
Most cholera patients have moderate to severe symptoms. However, only 10% of infected individuals show severe symptoms within 12 hours to five days after ingesting the bacteria. These signs and symptoms include
- Sudden diarrhoea
- Mild to severe dehydration, and
Dehydration caused by cholera is often severe. It might result in signs and symptoms such as
Cholera in children
Usually, children who have cholera show the same symptoms as adults. However, they may also experience
- Severe drowsiness
- Convulsions, and/or
When to see a doctor?
In developed countries, the danger of cholera is low. Even if it is present, people are unlikely to become sick if they follow food safety guidelines. Across the globe, cases of cholera continue to occur. Consult your doctor if you get severe diarrhoea after visiting a cholera-infected region.
Get medical attention if you experience severe diarrhoea and think you may have been exposed to cholera. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency that must be treated right away.
At Medicover, our team of General Physicians help tackle Cholera with utmost compassion and care.
The bacteria Vibrio cholera is the main cause of cholera. It is spread mostly through contaminated food and water. When this bacteria enters the human body, it generates a deadly toxin in the small intestine. The poison subsequently causes more fluid loss.
The following are some ways this infection spreads:
Municipal water supplies or well water are common causes of cholera infection. People who reside in areas with low sanitation are at a higher risk.
Raw fruits and vegetables:
Raw fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with the bacteria due to the usage of manure fertilisers or polluted irrigation water.
Consuming raw or undercooked seafood, particularly crabs and oysters, may result in cholera infections.
Cholera may affect anyone, but certain factors may make it more likely. Some of these factors may even increase the risk of developing a severe case:
Places with poor sanitation and toxic water are infected with cholera.
Family members who are ill:
Close contact with cholera patients can increase your risk of contracting the infection.
Low stomach acid levels:
Cholera bacteria cannot live in highly acidic environments; thus, low stomach acid levels may make you vulnerable to this disease.
Type O blood:
For unknown reasons, people with type O blood are twice as prone to develop cholera as people with other blood types.
Raw or undercooked seafood:
Although huge cholera outbreaks are no longer common in developed countries, eating shellfish containing the bacterium significantly increases your risk of infection.
The following are some of the complications that might result from Cholera:
When kidneys lose their filtering abilities, substances such as electrolytes, excess fluids, and wastes accumulate in the body. This may become fatal.
Low blood sugar levels occur when a patient cannot eat properly. Infected children are more prone to this complication, causing seizures, unconsciousness, etc.
Low potassium levels:
People infected with cholera lose a substantial amount of minerals, like potassium, in their faeces. Low potassium levels can impair neuron and heart function and consequently endanger life.
If you live in or are visiting a cholera-infested area, following the below-mentioned tips will help you and your family stay safe. To avoid cholera, ensure the food and water are safe to consume. When the following steps are taken, the risk of cholera is significantly reduced:
- Drinking from taps, water fountains, and ice cubes should be avoided. This caution relates to water used for dishwashing, cooking, and brushing as well.
- Do not consume raw or undercooked fish
- Only drink water that has been sealed, canned, boiled, or chemically processed. In addition, never drink from a bottle with a broken seal.
- Eat prepackaged foods. However, ensure that all other items are freshly prepared and served hot.
- Consider water disinfection by bringing it to a boil for at least one minute. To each litre of water, add half of an iodine pill or two drops of household bleach to sanitise fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, you may also use chlorine tablets for washing.
- Hands should be washed with soap and clean water before handling and eating food and after using the restroom. If clean water and soap are unavailable, use a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.
If a patient has severe watery diarrhoea, vomiting, and rapid dehydration, especially if they have just travelled to a place with a recent history of cholera or poor sanitation, or if they have recently consumed shellfish, a doctor may suspect cholera.
A stool sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing, but if cholera is detected, treatment must begin before the results are back. A rapid cholera dipstick test allows doctors to confirm a cholera diagnosis in remote places. Early identification reduces the number of fatalities at the start of cholera epidemics and allows for early public health efforts to manage the outbreak.
The following are common cholera effective treatments:
- Oral rehydration salts, which are mixed with water
- Other electrolyte solutions
- Intravenous (IV) fluid rehydration
- Antibiotics, and
- Zinc supplements
The afore-mentioned treatments replace the body's fluids and rehydrate them. They also assist in shortening the duration of diarrhoea.
Dos and Don’ts
Cholera is an acute condition caused by the ingestion of Vibrio cholera bacteria in food or water. Cholera can result in severe diarrhoea, dehydration, and fatality. To avoid it, clean water and proper hygiene are essential. Cholera may clear up on its own in a few days. However, if your symptoms are severe and you get dehydrated, you should seek emergency medical treatment. You can avoid the harmful effects of cholera by following the below mentioned do's and don'ts:
|Use bottled water to avoid contamination||Drink from the tap water|
|Use packaged food||Eat raw meat and unpeeled fruits and vegetables|
|Keep yourself hydrated||Drink unpasteurised milk|
|Use hand sanitisers made of at least 60% alcohol||Ignore proper sanitation and cleanlinesss|
To recover from cholera, take care of yourself and maintain your immune system while getting proper medical care.
Cholera Disease Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover, we have the most trusted group of doctors and healthcare specialists who are competent in offering the finest medical treatment to our patients with compassion and care. To treat Cholera, we take a holistic approach that includes active participation of healthcare professionals from several departments, each with their area of expertise, to address the disease for comprehensive treatment, recovery, and well-being. Our excellent General physicians diagnose and systematically treat the illness leading to successful treatment outcomes.