Overview Of Epidemic Cholera
Epidemic cholera is a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea.
Causes Of Epidemic Cholera
Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio Cholera. These bacteria release a toxin that causes an increased amount of water to be released from cells that line the intestines. This increase in water produces severe diarrhea.
People develop the infection from eating or drinking food or water that contains the cholera germ. Living in or traveling to areas where cholera is present raises the risk of getting it.
Epidemic cholera occurs in places with a lack of water treatment or sewage treatment, or crowding, war, and famine.
Common locations for cholera include:
- Some parts of Asia
- South and Central America
Symptoms of epidemic cholera can be mild to severe. They include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Dry mucous membranes or dry mouth
- Dry skin
- Excessive thirst
- Glassy or sunken eyes
- Lack of tears
- Low urine output
- Rapid dehydration
- Rapid pulse (heart rate)
- Sunken “soft spots” (fontanelles) in infants
- Unusual sleepiness or tiredness
- Watery diarrhea that starts suddenly and has a “fishy” odor
Exams & Tests
Tests that may be done include:
- Blood culture
- Stool culture and Gram stain
Treatment Of Epidemic Cholera
The goal of treatment is to replace fluid and salts that are lost through diarrhea. Diarrhea and fluid loss can be fast and extreme. It can be hard to replace lost fluids.
Depending on your condition, you may be given fluids by mouth or through a vein (intravenous, or IV). Antibiotics may shorten the time you feel ill.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed packets of salts that are mixed with clean water to help restore fluids. These are cheaper and easier to use than the typical IV fluid. These packets are now being used around the world.