Cholera is a bacterial disease that generally expands through contaminated water. Cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration. Left untreated, cholera can be life-threatening in a matter of hours, even in previously healthy people. Modern sewage and water treatment have virtually removed cholera in industrialized countries. The last major outbreak in the United States happened in 1911. But cholera is still present in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Haiti. The risk of cholera epidemic is highest when poverty, war, or natural disasters force people to live in crowded situations without sufficient sanitation. Cholera is easily treated. Death results from severe dehydration that can be prevented with a simple and inexpensive rehydration solution.
Symptoms of Cholera
Most people exposed to the cholera bacterium (Vibrio cholera) do not become ill and never know they’ve been affected. Yet because they shed cholera bacteria in their stool for seven to fourteen days, they can still affect others through contaminated water. Most symptomatic cases of cholera make mild or moderate diarrhea that is sometimes difficult to differentiate from diarrhea created by other problems.
Only about 1 in 10 affected people promotes more-serious signs and symptoms of cholera, generally within a few days of infection. The symptoms of Cholera include
1) Diarrhea: Cholera-related diarrhea appears on suddenly and may quickly make a dangerous fluid loss as much as a quart (about 1 liter) an hour. Diarrhea, due to cholera, sometimes has a pale, milky appearance that resembles water in which rice has been rinsed.
2) Nausea and vomiting: Occurring, particularly in the primary stages of cholera, vomiting may persist for hours at a time.
3) Dehydration: Dehydration can arise within hours after the onset of cholera symptoms. Based on how many body fluids have been lost, dehydration can range from nominal to dangerous. A loss of 10 percent or more of total body weight indicates severe dehydration.
Signs and symptoms of Cholera dehydration consist of irritability, lethargy, sunken eyes, a dry mouth, extreme thirst, dry and shriveled skin that is slow to bounce back when pinched into a fold, little or no urination, low blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat. Dehydration may lead to a rapid loss of minerals in your blood (electrolytes) that maintain the balance of fluids in your body. This is known as electrolyte imbalance.
Causes of Cholera
A bacterium called Vibrio cholera causes of cholera infection. However, the deadly effects of the disease are the result of a potent toxin known as CTX that the bacterium produces in the small intestine. CTX binds to the intestinal walls, where it interferes with the normal flow of sodium and chloride. Causes of Cholera makes the body to secrete enormous amounts of water, leading to diarrhea and a rapid loss of fluids and salts (electrolytes). Contaminated water supplies are the primary source of cholera infection, although raw shellfish, uncooked fruits and vegetables, and other foods also can harbor V. cholera.
Cholera bacteria have two different life cycles. One in the environment and one in humans.
Complications of Cholera
Complications of Cholera can quickly become life-threatening. In the most severe cases, the rapid loss of vast amounts of fluids and electrolytes can trigger death within two to three hours. In less extreme conditions, people who don’t take treatment may die of dehydration and shock hours to days after cholera symptoms first arise.
Although shock and severe dehydration are the most destroying complications of Cholera, other problems can happen, like:
1) Low blood sugar: Seriously low levels of blood sugar (glucose), the leading energy of the body source may occur when people become too ill to eat. Children are at the highest risk of Cholera complications, which can create seizures, unconsciousness, and even death.
2) Low potassium levels: People with cholera lose vast quantities of minerals, including potassium, in their stools. Deficient potassium levels work with heart and nerve function and are fatal.
3) Kidney (renal) failure: When the kidneys lose their filtering process, excess amounts of fluids, some electrolytes, and wastes grow up in your body, a potentially life-threatening situation. In people with cholera, kidney failure sometimes accompanies shock.
Although signs and symptoms of dangerous cholera may be unmistakable in endemic areas, the only way to ensure a diagnosis of Cholera is to figure out the bacteria in a stool sample. Rapid cholera diagnosis tests are now available, enabling health care providers in remote areas to ensure the diagnosis of cholera previously. Quicker confirmation helps to reduce death rates at the begin of cholera outbreaks and leads to primary public health interventions for outbreak control.
Treatment of Cholera
Cholera needs immediate treatment because the disease can make death within hours.
1) Rehydration: The aim is to substitute lost fluids and electrolytes using a simple rehydration solution, oral rehydration salts (ORS). The ORS solution is available as a powder form that can be reconstituted in boiled or bottled water. Without rehydration, approximately half of the people with cholera die. With treatment, the number of fatalities drops to less than 1 percent. ORS solution is a standard treatment of Cholera.
2) Intravenous fluids: During a cholera epidemic, most people can be aided by oral rehydration alone, but seriously dehydrated people may also require intravenous fluids for the treatment of Cholera.
3) Antibiotics: While antibiotics are not an essential part of cholera treatment, some of these drugs may decrease both the amount and duration of cholera-related diarrhea for people who are seriously ill.
4) Zinc supplements: Research has shown that zinc may reduce and shorten the duration of diarrhea in children with cholera.
Prevention of Cholera
1) Clean hands with soap and water frequently
2) Drink only purified water
3) Eat only cooked and hot food
4) Be aware of dairy foods