Cholera is a potentially deadly form of bacterial infection due to the consumption of contaminated water or food.
Remember that not all who are infected will experience symptoms, but those who do generally suffer from:
- Severe, watery diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping
- Feeling sick
The symptoms typically arise in a few days after being infected, but can manifest after a few hours. If not treated, the combination of vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration and even into a state of shock. In severe cases, this condition can be deadly.
For those who are travelling to countries with reported cases of cholera, it is vital to be aware of the basic precautionary measures to prevent cholera such as:
- Only consume water that was boiled or drink from a properly sealed bottle
- Avoid any shellfish, salads or other seafood
- Do not eat ice cream or add ice on any beverages
- Avoid any uncooked vegetables and fruit unless they were washed using safe water or have been peeled yourself
Vaccination for cholera
The vaccination against cholera might be recommend if travelling to areas where there are reported cases of the infection.
A doctor should be consulted about the need for vaccination if there are plans to visit a country with reported cases of the infection.
The cholera vaccine is offered as a beverage that is taken in 2 or 3 split doses that are given 1-6 weeks apart. This vaccine is considered effective in the months after using one, but the degree of protection steadily drops over time and booster doses are required if the individual remains at risk.
Cholera can be managed with oral rehydration solutions to prevent dehydration and shock. This is usually available as a sachet that contains a combination of glucose and salts which is dissolved in water. It helps in replacing the fluids and minerals lost if the individual becomes dehydrated.
In case an individual is severely dehydrated, antibiotics given intravenously might be suggested to shorten the length of diarrhea and hasten the rehydration process.