Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea, which may lead to dehydration and death if left untreated. A bacterium called Vibrio chlorate that contaminates food or drinking water is the cause of Cholera.

 

CAUSES

Vibrio cholera a bacterium causes cholera infection. A potent toxin called CTX a bacterium produced in the small intestine causes deadly effects. It causes the body to secrete huge amounts of water, leading to diarrhoea and rapid loss of fluids and salts (electrolyte).

Cholera bacteria have two distinct phases- one in the environment and the 2nd in a human being.  

CHOLERA BACTERIA IN THE ENVIRONMENT

The bacteria occur naturally in coastal waters where they attach to tiny crustaceans called copepods. The urea found in sewage and agricultural runoff further enhances the algae growth.  

CHOLERA BACTERIA IN PEOPLE

Human faeces contaminate food and water supplies, both can serve as ideal breeding grounds for the cholera bacteria.

The most common sources of cholera infection are standing water and certain types of food, including seafood, raw fruits and vegetables, and grains.

People living in crowded conditions without adequate sanitation are especially at risk of cholera.

Eating raw or undercooked seafood, especially shellfish that originates from certain locations can expose you to cholera bacteria.

Raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables are a frequent source of cholera infection in areas where cholera is endemic.  

SYMPTOMS

As per WHO 80% of people infected with vibrio cholera do not develop any symptoms despite the presence of bacteria in their faeces up to 10 days. The faeces shed into the environment may infect other people. Symptoms can be mild or can be very serious:

  • Diarrhoea and vomiting, often with a fishy odour
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Skin colour may turn bluish due to excessive fluid loss
  • Sunken eyes
  • Wrinkled hands
  • Dry mucous membranes, in the mouth, throat, nose, and eyelids
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Thirst
  • Muscle cramps
  • Decrease in urine frequency
  • Seizure or even coma, especially in kids.

 

TREATMENT

Rehydration

The aim of the treatment is to use Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), an effective rehydration solution that replaces lost fluids & electrolyte. Without rehydration, approximately half the people with cholera die. With the treatment, the percent of fatalities drops.

Intravenous fluids

In an epidemic spread of cholera most people can be helped by oral rehydration alone, but severely dehydrated people may also need intravenous fluids.

Antibiotics

Antibioticsare usually not a part of cholera treatment. But some of the drugs reduce the amount and duration of diarrhoea in people who are severely ill.

Zinc Supplements

Research has shown that zinc may decrease and shorten the duration of diarrhoeain children with cholera.  

PREVENTION

  • The best way to protect is to avoid potentially contaminated food and water.
  • Drink purified and well boiled water
  • Eat well cooked foods only.
  • Avoid consuming unpeeled fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Avoid undercooked seafood
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. If not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Practice good body hygiene.

 

MYTHS & FACTS

MYTH: Only an infected person can cause Cholera.
FACT: People living under unhygienic conditions are prone to cholera. It also spreads through unhealthy environment.
Be extra careful, when you are around with someone infected. People with good immunity can fight back the disease.

MYTH: There are rare chances of Cholera turning fatal.
FACT: An acute diarrhoeal disease, if not treated promptly, can claim lives.

MYTH: Oral rehydration solution is not as effective to cure Cholera.
FACT: AS per WHO, up to 80% cases can be successfully treated with Oral rehydration solution (ORS).

MYTH: Cholera cannot be prevented.
FACT: Stay clean and keep up hygienic living conditions & help prevent cholera.

MYTH: Cholera shows symptoms at initial stages.
FACT: Approximately, 75% of people infected with cholera do not show any symptoms.