Cholera is caused by a specific bacteria. This bacterium releases a toxin that causes rapid loss of fluids from the small intestines. Cholera is spread by ingesting food or water contaminated by fecal waste. It is common in countries that lack proper sewage disposal.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Factors that increase your risk of getting cholera include:
Symptoms of cholera begin quickly and can be severe. They include:
The severity of symptoms ranges from mild, short-lived diarrhea to shock and death due to extreme fluid loss. Most symptoms occur one to three days after exposure.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. It is important to tell your doctor about any recent travel to areas where cholera is common. If cholera is suspected, stool and blood samples will be tested.
The first priority in treating cholera is to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through diarrhea . In severe cases, uncorrected dehydration can be fatal. Hydration solutions can be given orally or through an IV.
Antibiotic medications may help shorten the course of the disease in severe cases. They may also be given to the people you live with to prevent them from becoming ill.
You can prevent cholera by avoiding contaminated food and fluids in areas where cholera occurs. Currently, these areas include parts of these countries and continents:
When traveling in these areas, you are advised to:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Public Health Agency of Canada
Cholera. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cholera/index.html . Updated July 29, 2013. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Cholera. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated February 15, 2013. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Farmer P, Almazor CP, et al. Meeting cholera's challenge to Haiti and the world: a joint statement on cholera prevention and care. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011;5(5):e1145.
Harris JB, Khan AI, et al. Blood group, immunity, and risk of infection with vibrio cholerae in an area of endemity. Infection and Immunity. 2005;73:7422-7427.
Ryan ET. The cholera pandemic, still with us after half a century: time to rethink. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011;5(1):e1003.
Sack DA, Sack RB, et al. Cholera. Lancet. 2004;363:223-233.
World Health Organization, Cholera: 2010. 2011 Weekly Epidemiological Record. Jul 29;86(31):325-39. Available at http://www.who.int/wer/2011/wer8631.pdf . Accessed August 7, 2013.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×