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Cholera: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Cholera is an infectious disease that is caused by bacteria that produces a watery diarrhea, which rapidly leads to dehydration and even to death if left untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.

This disease is common in places with poor sanitation which include parts of Latin America, South Asia and Africa.

Causes of Cholera

Cholera is found mostly in water or food contaminated by feces from a person with this infection.  When a person gets the contaminated food or water, then the bacteria release toxins in the intestines that produces severe diarrhea. Cholera is not transmitted to another person if he has casual contact with an infected person.

Some common sources include water supplies from municipal, foods and drinks sold by street vendors, vegetables grown with water containing human wastes and seafood caught which is polluted with sewage.

Symptoms of Cholera

The symptoms of cholera can begin as soon as a few hours or as long as five days after getting infected. Some symptoms are mild but some symptoms are serious. Many infected people may have no symptoms but still they contribute to spread of the infection.

Some symptoms are rapid increase in heart rate, low blood pressure, cramping of muscles, thirst and dry mucous membranes, which includes inner part of mouth, throat and eyelids.

Treatment and Prevention of Cholera

Cholera requires immediate treatment because it can cause death within hours. Although there’s a vaccination against cholera, but World Health Organization do not recommend it as does not protect up to the half of the people who are suffering from it, it only lasts for few months. However, you can protect yourself and your family by using boiled water, water that has been chemically cleaned from all infections or bottled water.

The main purpose is to replace the lost fluids and electrolytes by using a simple rehydration solution known as ORS (oral rehydration salts)

Always use the bottled, boiled water for drinking, preparing food, making ice, washing your face and hands, while brushing your teeth and washing fruits and vegetables.

To disinfect your water, you should boil it for a minute or filter it and use a chemical disinfectant. You should also avoid raw foods which include unpeeled fruits and vegetables, fish caught in tropical reefs and unpasteurized milk and milk products.

If the disease gets severe, you should eat raw shellfish or if you are travelling to a country where cholera outbreak, you should seek medical help. This is highly treatable, as dehydration can happen anytime so it’s important to get cholera treatment.

To get cholera properly treated, hydration is the backbone. The antibiotics, which kill bacteria, are not part of an emergency treatment for mild cases, but they can reduce the diarrhea duration by half and also reduce the bacteria excretion, helping to prevent the disease spread further.

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