What is cholera?
Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes can be severe.
What are cholera symptoms?
Approximately 1 in 20 infected persons has severe disease characterized by:
- Profuse watery diarrhea,
- Vomiting and
- Leg cramps.
In these persons, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
How does a person get cholera?
A person may get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces (stool) of an infected person. The disease can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water.
The cholera bacterium may also live in the environment in brackish rivers and coastal waters. Shellfish eaten raw have been a source of cholera. The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore, casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill.
Can cholera be treated?
Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluid and salts lost through diarrhea. Patients can be treated with oral rehydration solution, a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with water and drunk in large amounts. This solution is used throughout the world to treat diarrhea. Severe cases also require intravenous fluid replacement. With prompt rehydration, less than 1% of cholera patients die.
Antibiotics shorten the course and diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as rehydration. Persons who develop severe diarrhea and vomiting in countries where cholera occurs should seek medical attention promptly.
Precautions against Cholera
- Clean ash-pit, ventilated and disinfected area carefully
- Avoid excessive exertion, either bodily or mental, and exposure to rapid changes of temperature
- Avoid crowds
- Drink no water until it has been boiled; after it has become cold, pour it into a bottle, which when half-filled and well corked should be shaken for a few minutes before it is drunk. Of course the bottle must have been scalded out as also the cups or glasses from which you drink
- Drink nothing till It has been boiled
- Let all food be well cooked and let all fruit be well washed in boiled water in vessels that have been scalded out; or better still, take the skins off after washing, or best of all, stew all fruit
- Instead of the ordinary bread and butter use dry toast
- Hot dinners are best
- All cups, glasses, knives, forks, spoons, pans and everything used in eating should be washed in hot water before using, or what would do as well, put them into a hot oven for a few minutes
- Never wash in water that has not been boiled.
- Several times a day, and before every meal, wash both hands and face with water that has been boiled, and to which is added to part of carbolic acid
- Clean towels should be used, if possible, every time.
- Water used for washing purposes should be brought to the point of boiling, and after cooling, about
- Bed clothes and toilet linen should be thrown into boiling water, and then dried.
- Dish cloths and all kinds of drying cloths should be put into boiling water after using each time, and then thoroughly dried and heated before using again.
- Should the Cholera enter a house, isolate the patient at once.
- In cases where the bodies of Cholera patients or clothes and linen soiled with their evacuations have to be handled, it is necessary to cover the mouth and nostrils with a little mask made of two pieces of fine metallic linen, with a wadded inside half-an-inch thick, the mask having been exposed to 150 degrees of heat, that temperature being renewed after each time it is used. This heat can be obtained by holding the mask before a hot fire before and after each time of using till it is thoroughly hot all the way through
- Rooms that have been occupied by Cholera patients should be shut up for several hours before/ anyone enters