By Dr. Ramya V Raghavan, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield
The recent news on Cholera outbreak in specific areas has put the residents of Bangalore on a high alert. Public awareness concerning the spread of disease can help curb cholera. Precautions and timely treatment is very important to control an outbreak.
Symptoms of cholera –
- Profuse watery diarrhoea
- Leg cramps and associated symptoms due to dehydration
- Cholera can cause death due to dehydration within hours if not treated properly.
How is cholera spread?
- Cholera is a caused by a bacterium called Vibrio Cholerae present in contaminated water and food
- Cholera does not spread directly from one person to another. It is only spread via faecal contamination of water sources and food.
- Cholera has a short incubation period from a few hours to around 5 days.
- Around 75% of people carrying the cholera infection may not show any symptoms but shed the bacterium in their faeces/stools across 7 to 14 days causing infection to other individuals.
The following simple steps can protect you and your family from cholera:
- Drink and use safe water.
- Safe water is water that is bottled with an unbroken seal or water that has been boiled or treated via chlorine or other means.
- Safe water should also be stored in clean covered containers.
- Wash hands often with soap and safe water.
- Cook food well. Keep all food items covered.
- Always wash hands after using a latrine and before preparing any food.
- Do not defecate in the open or near any water body. Bury the faeces or use a latrine.
Treatment for cholera:
- First ensure patient is sufficiently hydrated via an Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) solution. In severe case, intravenous fluids will be needed
- Appropriate antibiotics will be prescribed by your Doctor to shorten the duration of the disease
- If any person presents with any of the cholera symptoms listed above, then they must immediately go to the nearest hospital or PHC.