Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration as a result of extreme loss of body fluid/electrolyte and most likely leads to death if left untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.
Due to severe dehydration, fatality rates are high when untreated, especially among children and infants. Death can occur in otherwise healthy adults within hours. Those who recover usually have long-term immunity against re-infection. When traveling to Asia, Africa and some parts of Latin America, people need to protect themselves against cholera by having the appropriate vaccinations beforehand, drinking only water that is boiled or from a sealed bottle and following good handwashing practices.
Symptoms of Cholera
Immediate Cholera outbreak and infection often times come with no symptoms as very few infections are severe, If symptoms appear, they will do so between 12 hours and 5 days after exposure. They range from mild or asymptomatic to severe signs, symptoms include
-Rapid heart rate
-Loss of skin tone and elasticity (which is the ability to return to original position quickly if pinched)
-Dry mucous membranes, including the inside of the mouth, throat, nose, and eyelids
-Low blood pressure
If not treated, dehydration can lead to shock and death in a few hours.
Causes of Cholera
When a person takes in contaminated food or water, the bacteria release a toxin in the intestines that produces severe diarrhea.
Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera, is usually found in food or water contaminated by feces from a person with the infection. Common sources include:
-Raw or half cooked fish and seafood caught in waters polluted with waste water.
-Municipal water sources
-Ice made from municipal water
-Foods and drinks sold by street vendors
-Vegetables growing with sewage water.
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