Cholera is a bacterial disease that is commonly spread through contaminated water. The common symptoms of cholera are severe diarrhea and dehydration. When the symptoms of cholera are left untreated, cholera can prove to be fatal in a matter of hours. So, why is it important to know the causes, treatment and prevention of cholera? Well you never know the moment you may save a life
To all those wondering, is there is a cure for cholera? Yes cholera is easily treated. The high numbers of casualties from the severe dehydration can be easily prevented through a simple and affordable re-hydration solution. Below is a breakdown of the symptoms, causes and prevention of cholera in Ghana.
Causes of cholera
There are many misconceptions about the disease especially by the public. Most of the people wondering, is cholera a virus or bacteria? Cholera is a bacterial disease caused by a bacterium called Vibrio cholera that thrives in contaminated water. The risk of the cholera is rampant in the poverty stricken areas of Ghana or the urban areas where people live in crowded conditions with lack of proper sanitation.
The bacterial disease, Vibrio cholera, can be found in both food and water. This can be caused by contamination by the feces from a person with the infection. Some of the common sources include:
- Food and drinks sold through the local street vendors
- Municipal water supply
- Through the vegetables that are grown with the water that contains the waste contaminated with the disease.
- Raw or other under-cooked seafood such as fish that have been caught from the polluted water sources.
Is cholera contagious?
The bacterial infection is very contagious and can spread within a short period of time. Cholera can spread from an infected person feces or if the water or food is contaminated with the bacterial infection. The bacteria can live and survive in salty water.
Symptoms of cholera
Most Ghanaians that have been exposed to the bacterial disease do not fall ill immediately and they fail to know if they have been infected. In most cases, the symptomatic cases of cholera result in mild and moderate diarrhea that is often difficult to differentiate from diarrhea that is caused by other problems. After a few days of being infected, only 1 out of 10 people develop the more intricate signs and symptoms of the disease
Some of the major symptoms of cholera infection include:
The related diarrhea comes unexpectedly and may result in dangerous loss of fluids from the body which can lead to dehydration. The diarrhea caused by cholera looks pale and has a milky appearance that looks like water in which white rise has been rinsed.
2. Nausea and vomiting
This occurs especially during the early stages of the bacterial disease. The vomiting persists for hours at a time. Many people confuse the symptom for other ailments such as typhoid or food poisoning. It is better to seek professional help ones this symptom seeks to persist.
Due to the diarrhea and vomiting, one can easily be dehydrated as lose a lot of water. Dehydration is a major sign of cholera in Ghana. The dehydration leads to a rapid loss of minerals in the body that maintain the balance of the fluids in the body. This leads to the electrolyte imbalance.
4. Muscle cramps
The results arise from the rapid loss of the salt content in the body such as sodium, chloride and potassium.
This happens to be one of the most severe complications that arise from dehydration. This happens when the blood volume causes a slight drop in the blood pressure and the drop in the amount of oxygen in the body. If it remains untreated, it can lead to severe hypovolemic shock which can lead to the demise of the infected in a number of minutes.
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Signs and symptoms of cholera in children
When it comes to the bacterial infection, the children exhibit the same signs and symptoms as the adults. However, children are highly likely to be infected with the low blood sugar. This is highly influenced through the loss of body fluids which result in:
- A change in the state of consciousness
- Watery diarrhea
- Fishy odor to stools
- Rapid heart rate
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Dry mucous membranes with dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Being so thirsty
- Muscle cramps
- Restlessness or irritability especially witnessed in children
- Unusual sleepiness or unusual tiredness
There are more severe kind of signs and symptoms, the following are some of the severe cases that are associated with the bacterial infection:
- Abdominal pain with associated with cramps
- Rectal pain
- Severe vomiting
How can cholera be prevented?
Prevention is better than cure and there are many ways that cholera can be prevented. They include;
- Remember to wash hands with soap and water. This must be a command especially after visiting the toilet and also before handling food. It should also be done with precision as you rub soap thoroughly for about 15 seconds before rinsing off. In case soap is not available, seek the use of alcohol hand sanitizers.
- Improve on personal hygiene and that of your family member
- Drink safe and clean water. This includes the use of bottled water, or water that has been boiled.
- Eat food that has been completely cooked and hot. It is also advisable to avoid buying food from vendor as much as possible.
- Wash your fruits and vegetable with clean water before consumption
- Use the latrines or the bury for your feces to avoid it being washed away to rivers or other sources of water.
What is the treatment for cholera?
Cholera can be life-threatening but with modern technology and medical advancements it can be treated. The treatment plans require the replacing of the fluids and the salts that have been lost through diarrhea.
When it comes to the state of the patient, a common solution is a mixture of sugar and salts can be mixed thoroughly and taken by the patient in lot of quantities by the patients. One can also be given zinc supplements for treatment
In case the patients are too weak to drink, they can also be given the fluids through the intravenous means. This is with the prompt re-hydration that is less than 1% of the cholera patients end up succumbing to the bacterial infection.
There are also antibiotic that can be given but they are not part of emergency treatment. This antibiotics helps to kill the bacteria and they can also help reduce the duration of diarrhea by half. The antibiotics will also help to reduce the excretion of the bacteria, thus helping to prevent the spread of the disease.
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The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The general content that is inclusive of the text, graphics, images and information entailed and made available on this page is for general information purposes only.