Can You Contract Cholera Through Other Means Besides Water?
Cholera is an infection that causes thousands of deaths around the world every year. The biggest challenge posed by cholera is that it is difficult to control and treat at the same time. The infection spreads very fast affecting a huge number of people within a very short period of time.
What is cholera? Understanding what cholera is will help you know about all the other factors related to the infection. It is an infection mostly associated with the intestines. This is because the intestines are the immediate target organs of the body. Once you have the infection, the intestines are affected first, and quickly.
How Does Someone Get Cholera?
Knowing the ways through which an individual can get cholera is crucial. This helps people keep themselves safe from the infection. It will help you become aware of the areas and activities that can expose you to the infection.
The infection is caused by a bacterium known as Vibrio cholerae. Once you have this type of bacteria in your body, it quickly causes the infection, which in turn immediately causes diarrhea and vomiting. With time, these effects develop and increase dehydration which can lead to other more serious complications.
What Are Other Causes Of Cholera Apart From Contaminated Water?
Direct intake of contaminated water is known to be the major cause of infection with the cholera bacteria. Once a person takes in water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae bacteria, the bacteria quickly multiply in the body, causing the infection.
Water may be contaminated with the Vibrio cholera bacteria for various reasons. Particularly risky water includes:
- Untreated water drawn from wells and boreholes, especially when such water sources are left open and allow the entry of the bacteria
- Water contaminated with feces from a person infected by cholera
Some of other factors that can lead to cholera include:
- Street Food And Drinks
This is one of the most common factors especially in congested areas. When cholera is detected in a geographical locale, foods and drinks sold by street vendors are among the biggest causes of the spread of the infection. Vibrio cholerae are bacteria capable of surviving in different environmental conditions.
In an area with cholera victims, the bacteria can easily spread to foods and drinks sold in the streets. Foods and drinks sold by vendors are exposed to open air. There are also a high number of passersby and people touching the food items. The bacteria can thus easily spread from the infected people to the food.
To prevent the high level of transmission of cholera through food and drinks sold on the streets, avoid buying such items from vendors unless you are sure that they are safe.
2. Poorly-Cooked Seafood
Vibrio cholerae bacteria are known to have a natural lifecycle in some of the species living in the ocean. Such creatures provide a conducive environment for the bacteria. In cases where a person harvests such species and fails to cook them properly, the risk that the seafood has living Vibrio cholerae bacteria exists.
Eating such species raw or not fully-cooked can well lead to cholera. Such species include shellfish, crabs, and oysters. These contain very high amounts of the bacteria that will enter human body alive and will infect the body if the seafood is not sufficiently cooked.
There are other smaller species which host the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Among these species are other crustaceans and snails.
3. Human Feces
When a person has cholera, bacteria causing the infection are carried in the person's stool. After the stool is passed, the bacteria remain alive and breed in the stool. The bacteria can then spread from the feces to other objects that can then cause the further spread of the infection, or the infection itself.
In most cases, the feces can get to food or water, and upon consumption of these, one will get the infection. Children are among the people that are highly endangered in such cases, since they are often exposed to dirty environments especially when they have no one to watch over them.
The second group of people that most often contract the infection through feces are health workers. In hospitals where cholera patients are admitted, health workers may come into contact with their feces. Without adequate protection and observance of proper hygiene, health workers exposed to the bacteria may end up ingesting them.
4. Raw Vegetables and Fruits
In areas where there is a cholera outbreak, you will find that raw fruits as well as vegetables are a major factor in the infection being contracted by people. Most of the vegetables and fruits contaminated with the cholera bacteria are grown near sewage or other areas that have contaminated water. Inadequate cooking of these vegetables and fruits leaves the bacteria alive to infect the human body.
5. Poorly Cleaned Vegetables
The ingestion of poorly cleaned vegetables is a common cause of cholera in areas where there is high population of people living together and close to one another. In such areas, there are poor sanitation and drainage systems. As a result, vegetables often grow or are grown in or near infected areas like sewage dumps. Chances of such vegetables carrying cholera bacteria are high. Poor cleaning leaves the bacteria on the vegetables, invading the human body upon ingestion of the vegetables.
How Do You Know You Have Contracted Cholera?
Cholera is an infection characterized by fast symptoms. The infection requires a very short period of time before symptoms start showing. In most cases, the symptoms will be seen within a few hours to 5 days of contracting the infection.
Here are some of the common symptoms one may experience:
- Watery diarrhea - This is the most common and immediate symptom experienced when you contract the infection. Immediate attention should be given to the condition since the symptom easily causes dehydration.
- Watery vomiting - This accompanies diarrhea. Within a brief span of time, the patient becomes dehydrated, which leads to further dangerous consequences if allowed to continue and worsen.
- Decrease in skin elasticity - This is a symptom that worsens with time from the time of infection, and is mostly caused by dehydration due to excessive diarrhea. The skin becomes stiff such that it takes time to go back to its normal state when pinched.
- Feeling thirsty - This is also caused by vomiting and diarrhea.
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle cramps
- Increased heart rate - This is an effect caused by an increased demand of energy and materials as the body tries to fight the infection.
- Dry mucous membranes dry - This case can be very disturbing and painful at the same time. The areas usually affected are the throat, mouth, nose, and eyelids.
How to Deal with Other Factors That Can Carry Cholera Besides Water
There are ways by which you can keep yourself safe from contracting cholera from things other than contaminated water:
- Avoid eating street food, especially if you do not know whether it is safe.
- Ensure you properly cook any fish or seafood.
- Wash all vegetables and fruits properly before cooking or consuming uncooked.
- Use protective gear when handling cholera patients.
The Bottom Line
Cholera is a serious infection that can be caused by a variety of factors apart from contaminated water. Most of these risk factors can be easily managed if you take precautions. However, it is extremely important to note that the infection is contagious. This means that it can be transmitted from one person to another.
Upon detecting any cholera symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Since dehydration through diarrhea is the most immediate effect of a cholera infection, ensure the infected person's effective and constant rehydration to prevent cholera's worst effects even as immediate medical treatment is sought.
- Direct intake of contaminated water is known to be the major cause of infection by the cholera bacteria.
- Other high-risk factors aside from contaminated water include street food, inadequately cooked seafood, poorly cleaned and poorly cooked fruits and vegetables, and contact with human feces carrying the cholera bacteria.