Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of diarrhea and vomiting.It is caused by the bacterium vibrio cholerae.If untreated,it can lead to severe dehydration and even death.The disease is most common in places with poor sanitation,overcrowding,war and famine.
Vibrio cholerae,the bacterium that causes cholera is usually found in food or water contaminated by human waste e.g faeces from a person with the infection.The common sources are:
- Foods and drinks sold by street vendors.
- Vegetables grown with water containing human wastes.
- Raw or undercooked meat,fish and seafoods caught in waters polluted with sewage.
- Unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
- Unpasteurized milk and dairy products.e.t.c.
When an individual consumes the contaminated food or water,the bacterium releases a toxin in the intestines that produces severe diarrhea.The symptoms begins as soon as a few hours or as long as five days after exposure to vibrio cholerae.The symptoms include:
- Severe watery diarrhea a.k.a rice-water stool.
- Dehydration as a result of vomiting and diarrhea.
- Low blood pressure.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Dryness of the mouth,throat,nose,e.t.c.
- Muscle cramps
- Shock and death could occur if untreated promptly.
However,cholera can be prevented by observing the following measures:
- Ensure you drink water that has been either boiled or adequately disinfected or bottled water.
- Ensure strict personal and environmental hygiene.
- Proper and regular handwashing before and after toilet use
- Proper washing of dishes and kitchen utensils.
- Adequate washing of fruits and vegetables before consumption.
Once you develop severe,watery diarrhea and/or vomiting,seek medical attention immediately(visit a hospital),its important to get treatment as quickly as possible,delay may lead to shock or even death.