What is Cholera? Symptoms , risk of cholera and more


What is Cholera?

 Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and death if untreated.

 Cholera is caused by drinking food or water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.  This disease is most common in places suffering from uncleanliness, crowding, war and famine.

 With proper treatment, a person suffering from cholera can recover within 5 to 7 days.

 There are now four vaccines available to prevent cholera, but no vaccine provides 100 percent protection.  Therefore, maintaining cleanliness in eating, drinking and surrounding is a better solution.

 cholera in india :

 There was an outbreak of this disease in Ganjam district of Odisha on 14 April 2017.  Three persons have died in Kaduwa village after consuming contaminated “Pana” (a traditional drink of Ganjam).  Apart from Odisha, 36 other cases of cholera have been recorded in Hyderabad city limits.  Although the incidence of the disease in India is very rare (less than 1 lakh cases per year), the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that cholera could re-emerge in India.

Symptoms of cholera –

 About 80 percent of cholera patients do not suffer from any symptoms, and the disease resolves on its own after some time.  But according to WHO, the patient can still spread the bacteria into the environment.

 Incubation period (time between being infected and developing symptoms)

 This takes anywhere from a few hours to 5 days, usually 2 to 3 days.

 Infectious period (time during which an infected person can infect others)

 During the acute phase and for a few days after recovery, however, some people (called ‘carriers’) who do not have symptoms of cholera can still spread the bacteria and become infectious, sometimes –  Sometimes for months or a few years.

 Of those who develop symptoms, about 80 percent of patients experience only mild symptoms.  Another 20 percent experience severe diarrhea, vomiting and leg cramps.

 Other symptoms of cholera are:

 Passage of extremely loose stools, also known as rice-water stools; presence of white flecks in the stool.

  • Vomiting.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Decreased elasticity of the skin.
  • Drying of mucous membranes.
  • Low BP is also a symptom.
  • Feeling extremely thirsty.
  • muscle cramps.
  • Restlessness or irritability.

 Individuals with severe cholera may develop acute kidney failure, coma, and severe electrolyte imbalance.  If left untreated, it can lead to severe dehydration, asthenia (shock; lack of adequate supply of oxygen and blood to the body’s organs), and death.

Due to cholera –

  • The following are the causes and common sources of cholera:
  • Drinking impure water provided by the municipality.
  • By using ice made from untreated water provided by the municipality.
  • Consuming stale and impure food and drink items sold by street vendors.
  • By eating vegetables grown in water containing human waste.
  • Eating sea food found in polluted water is also one of the main reasons for this.
  • When a person consumes contaminated food or water, the bacteria present in it release toxins into the intestines that can cause severe diarrhea.
  • You cannot get cholera from casual contact with an infected person.
  • The cholera bacterium has two distinct life cycles – one in the environment and the other in humans. 

Know more about them:

 In the environment:

 Cholera bacteria exist naturally in coastal waters, where they attach to small crustaceans called copepods.  Cholera bacteria join them and spread throughout the world.

 In humans:

 When people consume cholera bacteria, they do not get sick themselves, but they can spread the bacteria through their stool.  When human feces contaminate food and water sources, both serve as ideal breeding grounds for this bacteria.

What factors increase the risk of cholera?

 Cholera is more likely to develop in unhygienic conditions.

 Low or no stomach acid (Hypochlorhydria or Achlorhydria) – People with low levels of stomach acid – such as children, the elderly, and people taking antacids, H-2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors – are at risk for cholera.  There is a greater risk of this happening.

 Household factors:  You are at significantly higher risk of getting cholera if you live with someone who has it.

 People with blood type O are twice as susceptible to cholera as people with other blood types, although the reason why this is not yet known.

Reasons :

 Vibrio cholerae bacteria is the main cause of cholera.  It is mostly spread through contaminated food and water.  When this bacteria enters the human body, it produces deadly toxin in the small intestine.  The poison later causes more fluid loss.

 Following are some ways in which this infection spreads:

contaminated water:

 Municipal water supplies or well water are common causes of cholera infection.  People living in areas with poor sanitation are at greater risk.

Raw fruits and vegetables:

 Raw fruits and vegetables may be contaminated with bacteria due to the use of manure, fertilizers or polluted irrigation water.


 Consuming raw or undercooked seafood, especially crabs and oysters, can cause cholera infection.

Diagnosis :

 If a patient has severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, and rapid dehydration, especially if they have recently traveled with a history of cholera or poor hygiene, or if they have recently consumed shellfish,  The doctor may suspect cholera.

 A stool sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing, but if cholera is detected, treatment should begin before the results come back.  A quick cholera dipstick test allows doctors to confirm cholera diagnosis in remote locations.  Early detection reduces the number of deaths at the beginning of a cholera epidemic and allows public health efforts to manage the outbreak.

Cholera treatment –

 Cholera can be treated, but because it can cause dehydration quickly, it must be treated as soon as possible.  Cholera requires immediate treatment as the disease can cause death within hours.  The main goal of treatment for infection is to replace the loss of water and body salts caused by vomiting and diarrhea.

 Rehydration –

 Its purpose is to compensate for the loss of water and electrolytes in the body with the help of rehydration solutions like ORS.


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