Cholera is a dangerous infection that - upon development in the body of a human being - causes severe symptoms that can be fatal if not treated early and correctly. This infection is mostly characterized by watery diarrhea, which is the most common symptom of the infection. Watery diarrhea is a common symptom that is possibly an indication of cholera. This symptom can have adverse effects that develop quickly and can lead to death in dire situations.
What Causes Cholera?
Cholera is a bacterial infection that can be obtained from many areas, especially those that lack a high standard of sanitation. The bacteria responsible for causing cholera are referred to as Vibrio cholerae. The Vibrio bacterium has a high survival ability, even in harsh environments, which make it a significant risk to human health.
The infection is spread by people coming in contact with contaminated material. If you come into contact with a substance contaminated with the Vibrio bacteria, it is only a matter of time before you are infected with cholera.
Here are some things you should be aware of when trying to avoid cholera:
- Contaminated water: In many cases, contaminated water often surfaces unbeknownst to those consuming it. It is especially common from sources such as dirty streams and pipes. Bacteria easily find their way into the water, which - if untreated - can easily transmit the Vibrio cholerae to those who consume it.
- Infected stool: Spread of cholera through the stool of an infected person has been one of the most common means of transmission. This mode of transmission is mostly found in highly congested, low-income areas. These are areas that lack adequate sanitation services.
- Contaminated food: This is a more dangerous factor. In areas where there is outbreak of cholera, fruits and other foods are easily contaminated. This is because the Vibrio bacteria are highly multiplying bacteria. It can also survive in different areas, which makes it easy to contaminate foods.
Is Cholera Curable?
Yes, cholera is curable. However, there are several challenges associated with curing cholera. The process also requires special attention, especially if the infection has spread to a large population. When we talk about the cure, we refer to management of the infection until it subsides. This means that apart from treating infected individuals, the infection should be managed in such a way that there will be no continuous transmission to new individuals.
The process of curing cholera is affected by the following factors:
- It is a contagious infection: This means that the infection can be transmitted from one person to another. As a result of this nature, new cases of infection are reported every day, which makes management a problem.
- Lack of knowledge: Lack of knowledge on how to prevent the spread of the infection from infected to healthy people is a significant problem. It affects the sensitive process of healing sick individuals. Very few people have knowledge on how to keep themselves safe from transmission.
- The Vibrio cholerae bacterium: This is the bacterium that causes the infection. It is capable of surviving in harsh environments. As a result, it becomes difficult to prevent new cases of the infection, since many people do not know where the bacteria may be found.
- Lack of facilities: Especially sanitation facilities. In most parts of Africa, this has been the major challenge. In many congested areas - especially slums - there are few sanitation amenities available. As a result, exposure to bacteria from stool and dirty water is very common.
Steps to Cure Cholera
There is no specific cure for cholera, unlike some other infections. However, there are a number of methods that can be used to heal and manage the infection. Most of these methods vary from eradicating cause factors to preventative measures and offering special treatment, especially when the infection is in its early stages. They may include:
1. Provision of Safe Water and Sanitation
These are methods aimed at dealing with the root cause or source of the infection. In most cases, water and sanitation are the main sources of the infection. In areas where people lack clean and adequate sanitation facilities, there is high exposure to the bacteria. Providing the right sanitation services provides harsh environmental conditions for the bacteria, which lead to their death. To ensure that the spread of cholera via poor sanitation problems is minimized, some of the following measures are commonly taken:
- Providing enough toilets: This will reduce the number of Vibrio bacteria close to humans.
- Provision of disinfectant chemicals: There must be adequate disinfectants in sanitation facilities. These are chemicals used in bathroom facilities that help in reducing the multiplication of the bacteria by killing them.
Since contaminated water is one of the major causes of the infection, provision of safe, clean drinking water is an extremely powerful way to ensure the spread of the disease is contained. This can be done by using chemicals to treat water meant for domestic use. Proper storage of clean water is also necessary.
2. Early Treatment
In many cases, cholera develops and becomes severe within a very short period of time. As a result of this, curing the infection becomes a challenge. To ensure that the infection is managed properly, early treatment is necessary.
If you seem to experience any symptoms of cholera, seek treatment immediately. Some of the best early treatment methods include:
- Use of antibiotics: This is where antibiotics are administered to the patient immediately at the onset of symptoms. It is a simple and effective method if the right antibiotics are used at the right time. The Vibrio cholerae bacteria are not always very strong at early stages and can be easily killed by antibiotics.
- Fluid replacement: One of the most immediate effects of cholera is dehydration. This gives the infection the ability to progress faster in the body. Correcting this effect can act as a good method to offset cholera. It is done through oral rehydration.
- Salt/sugar water: Have the patient drink solutions of salt and sugar water. This can strengthen and rebalance the body's electrolytes, helping it fight the cholera bacteria.
Prevention is ultimately the most advised step to 'curing' cholera. If you can successfully prevent cholera by being cautious, you won't have to worry about the bacteria. This is generally done by staying away from contaminated sources of the infection.
- Drink clean, treated water.
- Dispose of human waste properly.
- Adhere to the food safety requirements, especially when travelling.
- Vaccinate against diseases.
The Bottom Line
Cholera is generally a dangerous infection but can be cured if the right measures are taken. However, the infection is highly contagious and difficult to control. Always maintain access to clean water and adequate sanitation to prevent risk of infection.
Cholera is also a threat to the United States and other continents, such as Africa. Travelers should be particularly cautious. If you experience any symptoms related to cholera, visit a doctor as soon as possible. This will not only help cure the infection quicker, but also prevent it from spreading to other people.