Cholera disease: symptoms and treatment
Cholera and its accompanying symptoms
What is cholera?
Cholera is a bacterial disease that causes sudden diarrhea in the patient, and the cause of the disease is Vibrio cholerae, which has the ability to severely irritate the intestines.
This disease affects about 4 million people every year, and causes the death of more than 100,000 of them. (1) However, it is considered an easy disease to treat if it is diagnosed early.
Symptoms of cholera
The cholera germ is a toxic effect on the body, and the main symptom is severe watery diarrhea in the patient, and the stool is white in color, so it is described as “rice water diarrhea”, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the infection. .
This diarrhea occurs 12 hours to 5 days after contracting the infection and consuming food or drink contaminated with this bacteria, and it usually begins suddenly without pain or fever, and is sometimes accompanied by vomiting.
In severe cases of illness and as a result of persistent diarrhea and vomiting, the patient can lose more than a liter of water and salts every hour.
This is the most dangerous thing in the case of cholera, when the patient can reach a state of dehydration within a few hours, which can lead to death if the patient does not receive treatment.
Most cholera cases are asymptomatic or mild and require only oral fluid replacement.
The dehydration stage is the most dangerous stage of the disease and requires hospitalization, characterized by:
- The patient’s constant feeling of extreme thirst, and general fatigue
- The patient may feel a painful muscle spasm
- A significant decrease in the amount of urine excreted
- In these patients, it is noticed that the eyeballs are sunken, which is a condition in which the eyeball recedes inside the face
- Slight wrinkles in the skin, especially in the area of the fingers
- As this condition progresses and dehydration increases, a decrease in blood pressure may occur in the patient, and a decrease in the concentration of the element “potassium” necessary for the functioning of the body’s muscles in general, and the heart muscle in particular. .
- Some toxic substances accumulate in the blood and tissues, which leads to the patient entering a state of shock, leading to coma and kidney failure.
Causes and methods of cholera transmission
The infection is transmitted from person to person through food or drink contaminated with the “live” cholera bacterium, therefore it is transmitted mainly through food sources contaminated with human feces carrying this bacterium.
The infection often spreads in areas that do not have the necessary sterilization methods for well water, and proper sewage treatment.
Therefore, cholera is still widespread in areas characterized by large numbers of human gatherings and poor health and hygiene conditions, especially in areas such as the Middle East, North Africa, South America and others.
In addition, this bacterium can live in brackish rivers and coastal waters, so eating raw or undercooked shellfish is one way to spread cholera infection.(2).
As for the possibility of direct transmission of an infection from a sick person to a healthy person, it is unlikely, therefore contact with an infected person has no role in the transmission of the infection.
Diagnosis of cholera
The infection diagnosis goes through two main stages:
1- The first stage
This is the clinical examination stage, and this is by examining the patient, and examining the symptoms he shows, such as diarrhea and its color, the number of times he has to go to the bathroom, the presence of blood in the stool or not. , and others.
However, this step is not enough to confirm the diagnosis, and differentiate between cholera and other diseases that share similar symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to carry out the second stage of the diagnosis.
2- The second stage
This is the stage of laboratory analysis necessary to know the type of germ that causes the disease. Where samples are taken from the patient’s stool, and these samples are cultured for laboratory research. Transplantation yields several results:
- Cholera confirmed
- Determine the type of sprout
- Determining the best type of antibiotic for treatment
Doctors take any case of sudden watery diarrhea very seriously, to prevent the possible spread of cholera.
In addition to the above, and in the absence of properly equipped laboratories, it is possible to use RDT, which are simple tests that can detect the possibility of an attack of the disease.(3)
So that the responsible authorities can take appropriate precautions and measures to control the cases.
The treatment of cholera depends on replacing the fluids and minerals that the patient has lost as a result of diarrhea.
- In minor injuries, oral fluids can be replaced using special solutions that the patient can obtain from pharmacies without a prescription.
- In severe injuries, patients need to replace fluids in the hospital through the installation of an intravenous catheter.
- The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics as part of the treatment plan.
These drugs can help reduce the severity of the diarrhea and the duration of the illness, and they can reduce the chance of transmitting the infection to another person.
Doxycycline is one of the most commonly used drugs because it is safe for adults and children. (4)
It should be noted that the usual anti-diarrhea drugs are not useful in the treatment, but have a negative effect, because they increase the severity of the symptoms. Therefore, if you notice any symptoms, it is recommended to immediately consult a doctor and perform the necessary laboratory tests.
Ways to prevent infection
There are some precautions that can be taken to reduce the possibility of transmission of infection, and they include:
- Good and continuous hand washing with soap and water after entering the bathroom, and before preparing or eating any meal.
- Dispose of household waste properly and wash hands thoroughly after this procedure.
- Avoid sources of contaminated drinking water, and thoroughly sterilize vegetables, especially leafy ones.
- Avoid eating uncooked shellfish and seafood.
It is worth noting that oral cholera vaccines are available in most countries of the world. It is not so much the prevention of disease as it is appropriate to prevent severe symptoms of a short time.
These vaccines reduce the likelihood that the patient will develop severe diarrhea and dehydration 90% In the first ten days after vaccination, and in the first three months, the protection is 80%.
The effectiveness of the vaccine disappears completely after about 5 months, so the cholera vaccine is considered a short-term vaccine.
It is mainly used during disease epidemics, that is, when the disease is spreading, and in the case of an epidemic, and it is never given as a routine vaccine.