Cholera is caused by a specific germ called Vibrio Comma. Like typhoid it is spread by fingers, food, filth, and flies. Contaminated water is another way in which the disease is spread through a community. Water in wells, ponds, rivers, and lakes may all be contaminated because of sewage carrying the germs. The disease begins with severe vomiting and diarrhea. No other illness can equal this in the loss of water from the body. Death in most cases results form this marked dehydration and loss of vital electrolytes. The blood becomes thickened, and the heart action is weak. Blood pressure falls to a very low level. Finally the kidneys cease to function. Any attempt to take liquids by mouth results in more severe vomiting. There is extreme prostration. The features become gaunt and pinched, and the eyes are sunken. In extreme cases death may occur within a few hours.
Treatment consists of large amount of fluid given by vein. Sulfadiazine plus plasma have been used with excellent results. Good nursing care is essential. Attendants must take precautions against infecting themselves and those around them. Hospital care is advisable in all cases of cholera.
Vaccination against cholera is available for all who live in areas where the disease occurs. Two injections of the vaccine should be given about a week apart. It is well to have another injection every four to six months if one is continually exposed.
Strict quarantine of all cholera patients and proper sanitary disposal of their body wastes must be carried out to control this extremely serious disease.
- Haiti: How cholera turned shit into gold (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Happy Birthday John Snow (wellcomelibrary.org)
- Cholera as a symptom of poverty (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Raise a glass of clean water to John Snow | Robin McKie (guardian.co.uk)
- South Africa: Limpopo cholera scare (crofsblogs.typepad.com)