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The Cholera is a disease caused by a microorganism called Vibrio cholerae. The infected patient suffers an acute diarrheal process with intense dehydration that can cause death in a few hours if it is not treated immediately.

The disease comes from the area of ​​India. There have been 7 global pandemics since 1817. It currently occurs sporadically, except in endemic countries (South Asia).

The form of transmission is contaminated drinking water from the waste of a sick person. Contamination of food by feces can be an important form of transmission of the disease between individuals of the same family, as well as transmission through contaminated hands.

Cholera requires a large infective dose to cause infection. However, in individuals with gastric pH alterations, the infective dose is lower.

In endemic regions, cholera is mainly a pediatric disease, although children under 2 years of age are less likely to acquire it due to the presence in their body of antibodies from the mother transmitted through breast milk.

As a curiosity, it should be noted that there is a different degree of risk of acquiring the disease depending on the blood group (although the cause is not well known): group 0 has a higher risk than group AB.

Causes of cholera

Vibrio cholerae is a facultative anaerobic bacterium with optimal growth at temperatures of 18-37 ° C. Therefore, it can survive in temperate waters (aerobic environment) and in the intestine of man (anaerobic environment).

What this bacterium does is synthesize a toxin that has activity to destroy cells in the intestine, and this is the mechanism that causes the disease.

Cholera is transmitted by patients and carriers through contaminated food, water, and hands.

Germs pass from the mouth to the intestine. As it passes through the stomach, due to the acidic pH, bacteria are mostly destroyed, thus preventing disease from occurring. In individuals who have altered gastric pH, or if a high dose of the germ has been ingested, it is capable of reaching the small intestine in sufficient doses to cause the disease.

Once in the intestine, the bacteria begin to destroy intestinal cells. There is then a leakage of water from the body to the outside in the form of intense diarrhea. There is loss of sodium, potassium and bases, mainly, since they accompany the water in its exit. Diarrhea leads to shock and death if correct and immediate loss replacement is not performed.

Cholera symptoms

The incubation period ranges from 24-48 hours. The disease begins with abrupt, painless, watery diarrhea that rapidly increases in quantity and is often accompanied by vomiting.

Some data:
  • Fluid losses can be up to 1 liter / hour in adults and 10 milliliters / kg / hour in children, during the first 24 hours. If the fluid is not replaced, the patient dies of dehydration.
  • High potassium losses can lead to muscle cramps and cardiac arrest.
  • The feces are characteristic: grayish, cloudy liquid, with mucus and a slightly sweet smell.
  • Due to severe dehydration, the patient is thirsty, hypotensive, weak, and tachycardia. Drowsiness leading to coma may appear.

If the treatment is correct, the process is resolved in a few days and usually does not leave sequels.

Diagnosis and treatment

Suspicion of cholera due to symptoms must be confirmed by identifying the microorganism in feces by laboratory staining methods.

Treatment should start as soon as posible after the onset of symptoms. It is done through fluid and electrolyte replacement. The WHO recommended formula contains sodium, bicarbonate, glucose and water.

Mortality rates in properly treated people do not reach 1%.

Depending on the severity, the treatment will be carried out by the ORAL ROUTE (preferably, as it is a natural way) or by the INTRAVENOUS ROUTE (when the patient is vomiting a lot or is in a coma). To kill the microorganism, antibiotics can be used.

Tetracyclines are effective although they should not be used in children under 8 years of age, due to the toxicity they exert on the teeth and because they interfere with growth. Other effective antibiotics are cotrimoxazole and chloramphenicol.

How to avoid cholera?

The most effective way to prevent the disease when traveling to endemic areas is to always drink bottled water and not take ice.

In the European community, there are measures to control the water supply and mandatory standards in the control of food in public establishments, which make the presence of the disease difficult.

There is a VACCINE on the market against cholera. It is contraindicated in children under 1 year. It confers incomplete immunity, so even if a person is vaccinated before traveling to an endemic area, they must respect the rules about water consumption to prevent the disease.

Any acute diarrheal process is cause to go to the family doctor. This disease is very rare in our area, but if you have traveled to endemic areas and have diarrhea, you should inform your doctor.

One measure that should be done at home in the event of diarrhea is the replacement of fluids or the intake of foods rich in water, until you can go to the doctor.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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