What is Cholera?

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What is Cholera?
Cholera is a bacterial disease which affects the small intestines. It is caused by the bacterium vibrio cholerae, which is usually found in contaminated water and food. Cholera is easily treated, but early diagnosis is the key to its treatment. If left untreated, it can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration which can take the victim’s life in just a matter of hours.

Cholera is usually found in poorer or developing countries. Unsanitary conditions, especially in sewage systems are usually the culprit in causing a cholera outbreak. Fecal matter from an infected person oftentimes seep into waterways and groundwater, which then spreads it to an entire population. Cholera is highly contagious which explains its rapid spread in populations during outbreaks. It has been estimated in 2010 that cholera has affected as much as 3-5 million people globally, causing as many as 130,000 deaths.

Aside from severe diarrhea and dehydration, symptoms of cholera include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps and in some cases fever and convulsions.

Treatment of cholera involves rehydration (oral hydration therapy), administration of electrolytes, and antibiotics. If treated properly and on time, the mortality rate for cholera is only at 1%. However this changes drastically if the disease is not caught on time, with a mortality rate of as much as 60% if complications have already arisen.

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