Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Vibrio cholerae serogroups O1 and O139 can cause epidemic cholera.
Although most patients have mild symptoms, such as mild diarrhoea or vomiting, some patients may have severe symptoms with sudden onset of profuse diarrhoea with rice-water like and fishy smelling stool, nausea and vomiting. Without prompt treatment, these patients may die from severe dehydration.
Mode of transmission
Cholera is usually contracted through consumption of food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae. Human-to-human transmission rarely happens.
Ranges from a few hours to 5 days, usually 2-3 days.
The mainstay of treatment is timely and adequate rehydration. For mild dehydration, patients may take oral rehydration salts (ORS) fluid. Severe dehydration cases usually require intravenous rehydration to replenish fluid and mineral loss. For severe cases of diarrhoea, antibiotics may be used .
Preventive measures are based on good personal, food and environmental hygiene:
1. Personal hygiene
- Wash hands properly with soap and water
- before eating or handling food
- after toilet or changing diapers
- after handling garbage
- Avoid handling food when having symptoms of vomiting or diarrhoea
2. Food hygiene
- Purchase food from reliable sources. Do not patronise illegal hawkers
- Handle raw, cooked and ready-to-eat food with separate utensils and store them separately
- Ensure thorough cooking of food before consumption
- Discard any spoilt food
- Clean refrigerator regularly. Maintain the fridge at or below 4°C and freezer at or below -18°C
- Supervisors of food premisesshould use water from reliable sources to keep live fish or shellfish. They should also filter and change fish tank water frequently and cleanse the fish tanks regularly
3. Environmental hygiene
- Maintain proper drainage system
- Dispose of infected person's stool properly