Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused by infection of the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae that spreads through ingesting food or water contaminated with the bacterium.
Most Cholera patients do not develop any symptoms, but the bacteria can still spread to the environment for several days after infection. Some people experience mild symptoms in a few days after infection, and about 1/10 people experience severe watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and death without medical treatment.
Cholera is treatable with oral rehydration solution (ORS) to cover dehydration, but it has to be taken care of immediately since dehydration can progress fast and requires replacement of the fluid and salts.
There are oral cholera vaccines (OCV) for prevention, but it is not completely protective.
How it spreads
Lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, which allow the cholera bacterium to contaminate water by poop from a person infected with cholera bacteria.
Eating raw food and drinking water contaminated with cholera bacteria are the major sources of infection.
The bacterium does not spread through direct contact with an infected person.
Economic and environmental development that provides access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is essential. The Sustainable Development Goals include "The WASH solutions" for cholera prevention by ensuring use of safe water, basic sanitation and good hygiene practices.
Important practices for individuals are;
- Frequent hand-washing with soap and clean water or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before cooking, eating and after using the bathroom.
- Use boiled, bottled or chemically treated water instead of tap water, ice cubes or fountain drinks for cooking, drinking, washing dishes, brushing teeth or making ice,
- storage food away from flies that can transmit the cholera bacteria
- safely dispose the children's poop
- Avoid raw or undercooked food, including fruits and vegetables unless they are peeled.