Home Digestive system Cholera: contagion, symptoms and treatment

Cholera: contagion, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

If we talk about the diseases that have posed a greater threat to human health, cholera would surely be one of them, due to the rapid growth and spread of outbreaks, due to its ease of contagion. Despite the fact that in many countries there is a control of this condition, each year approximately 3 to 5 million patients with cholera are registered , of which more than 100 thousand are fatal. Most of the outbreaks that have developed have been in places with poor environmental and health quality, where there are inadequate hygienic conditions.

Cholera is characterized by acute diarrhea in the infected person, leading to a series of complications, and if not treated in time it can be fatal. For this reason, at FastlyHealwe want to inform you of everything regarding cholera: contagion, symptoms and treatment .

Ways of contagion of cholera

The cause of cholera is the bacterium Vibrio cholerae of serogroups 01 and 139, although there are other variants of this microorganism, but they usually cause only mild and low-spread diarrhea. This bacterium is found naturally in bodies of water and is mainly associated with algae, mollusks, crustaceans and fish . The human being is not part of its natural cycle, so it is considered an incidental host and uses it to continue dispersing in the environment, like a bird spreading seeds. However, for a person to develop cholera disease, the body must be infected with a minimum of one million Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which is a very high value compared to other infections.

The main method of transmission is through the consumption of contaminated water , since this can contain the strains of cholera when it comes into contact with the fecal matter or vomit of an infected person. It should be noted that the patient can expel more than a million of these bacteria each time they defecate. If we add to this the poor disinfection, storage or management of water for drinking or other uses, both at home and on a larger scale, the possibility that many people will contract this disease increases. Also, foodthey represent the second route of contagion, mainly because the ingredient infected with cholera bacteria has not been disinfected, well cooked, or is consumed raw, such as shellfish, fish or vegetables washed down with sewage. In addition, the digestion of food helps bacteria to overcome the gastric barrier, so that more of them survive and infect the body.

Another of the contagion mechanisms of cholera is the consumption of food without previously adopting correct hygienic measures . For example, if such food came into contact with the stool or vomit of an infected person when changing the diaper of an infected baby and not washing hands afterwards. It can also happen that food prepared by people who were in contact with the strains and did not wash their hands are ingested.

Main symptoms when developing cholera

Once there is the ideal amount of bacteria to infect the body with cholera, symptoms begin to appear within the first 3 hours or up to 5 days; how fast will depend on the amount of Vibrio cholerae bacteria in the body. However, there are cases in which the patient is infected with cholera but does not develop symptoms, beyond mild diarrhea, and continues to be a carrier of the disease, which is why it is a source of contagion.

It is also important to mention that depending on the severity of the infection the symptoms may vary, as well as the predisposition of the person to certain conditions. Among the symptoms of cholera that are observed are:

  • Acute diarrhea, which depending on the progression of the disease may present a little mucus, become more liquid whitish in color or be totally liquid with sudden, abundant episodes, with the appearance of “rice water” and with a smell similar to fish.
  • Intestinal noise
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting, which can be bilious and sudden.
  • Headaches, from less to greater intensity.
  • Fever.
  • Colic.
  • Dehydration, leading to complications and even death.
  • Weak pulse
  • Decrease in urine production.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Decreased level of glucose in the blood.
  • Sometimes there are seizures, mainly in children.

Treatment to combat cholera

It is important that you go to the doctor for any signs of abnormal diarrhea , especially if there are frequent cases of cholera in the place where you live. Starting treatment as soon as possible will shorten your recovery time and prevent complications that could be fatal.

Treatment against cholera begins by counteracting the loss of fluids and electrolytes, which depending on the patient’s condition, can be administered orally or, in severe cases, intravenously. The rehydration may include sera with contents of salts, mainly sodium, chloride, bicarbonate and potassium. However, even with this intervention, complications such as acute pulmonary edema, renal failure or hypovolemic shock can arise , with fatal results or in a coma. In turn, the doctor will indicate the type of antibioticto be used based on symptoms. These will help fight the cholera infection, reducing the amount evacuated and the duration of the symptoms, in addition to reducing the time in which the bacteria are expelled with the stool.

There is a vaccine against cholera that, if administered before the person comes into contact with the bacteria, may be able to cope with the infection. This vaccine contains inactive bacteria of cholera that allows the formation of defenses that fight the infection.

Prevent cholera

To avoid this type of infection, it is essential that optimal hygienic conditions are carried out . In this way, there is a greater possibility of preventing the spread of the cholera bacteria by taking these tips into account:

  • Avoid eating raw fish.
  • Try to always cook food: boil, baked, etc.
  • Do not drink water or cook with water that has not been treated, that is, that has not been boiled, subjected to disinfectants or that is not bottled.
  • Wash your hands before and after using the bathroom and when handling food.
  • Thoroughly wash unpackaged products, such as fruits and vegetables, with bottled water or that we know cannot be infected.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Cholera: contagion, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .

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