A problem in poor areas with unsatisfactory sanitation and hygiene, cholera presents as severe diarrhea and dehydration. It is a bacterial disease usually spread via contaminated water and if left untreated, can prove fatal due to severe dehydration.
The bacteria that causes this disease is called vibrio cholerae. It is spread via ingestion of water contaminated with the bacteria. Raw shellfish, uncooked fruits and vegetables can also spread this disease.
In most cases of this disease there are no serious signs, and it usually goes unrecognized as mild diarrhea. In severe cases, however, characteristic watery diarrhea of cholera called the “rice-water stool “can cause life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Nausea and vomiting may also be present. Signs of dehydration include:
- Lethargy, irritability
- Sunken eyes
- Dry mouth and skin
- Low blood pressure
- Low urine output
- Seizures, muscle cramps, and shock in electrolyte imbalance
Diagnosis can be made clinically, especially in areas where this disease is endemic. Stool sample confirms the diagnosis. Rapid cholera dipsticks are also now available.
Following interventions can be utilized to manage cholera:
- Intravenous fluids