Last Reviewed : 12/24/2020

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The classic symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that lasts a few days. Vomiting and muscle cramps may also occur. Diarrhea can be so severe that it leads within hours to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. This may result in sunken eyes, cold skin, decreased skin elasticity, and wrinkling of the hands and feet. The dehydration may result in the skin turning bluish. Symptoms start two hours to five days after exposure.

Cholera is caused by a number of types of Vibrio cholerae, with some types producing more severe disease than others. It is spread mostly by water and food that has been contaminated with human feces containing the bacteria. Insufficiently cooked seafood is a common source. Humans are the only animal affected. Risk factors for the disease include poorsanitation, not enough clean drinking water, and poverty. There are concerns that rising sea levels will increase rates of disease. Cholera can be diagnosed by a stool test. A rapid dipstick test is available but is not as accurate.

Prevention involves improved sanitation and access to clean water. Cholera vaccines that are given by mouth provide reasonable protection for about six months. They have the added benefit of protecting against another type of diarrhea caused by E. coli. The primary treatment is oral rehydration therapy—the replacement of fluids with slightly sweet and salty solutions. Rice-based solutions are preferred. Zinc supplementation is useful in children. In severe cases, intravenous fluids, such as Ringer's lactate, may be required, and antibiotics may be beneficial. Testing to see what antibiotic the cholera is susceptible to can help guide the choice.

Cholera affects an estimated 3–5 million people worldwide and causes 58,000–130,000 deaths a year as of 2010. While it is currently classified as a pandemic, it is rare in the developed world. Children are mostly affected. Cholera occurs as both outbreaks and chronically in certain areas. Areas with an ongoing risk of disease include Africa and south-east Asia. While the risk of death among those affected is usually less than 5%, it may be as high as 50% among some groups who do not have access to treatment. Historical descriptions of cholera are found as early as the 5th century BC in Sanskrit. The study of cholera by John Snow between 1849 and 1854 led to significant advances in the field of epidemiology.


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Basic information: web md cholera mayo clinic cholera health line cholera medlineplus cholera medline plus cholera nhs uk cholera kids health cholera merck manuals cholera healthy children cholera unicef cholera newyork times cholera life in the fast lane cholera university of maryland medical center cholera live science deadly cholera outbreaks could increase with climate change


Advanced information: who un rejects haiti cholera compensation claims medicine net un rejects haiti cholera compensation claims medical news today what is cholera? What causes cholera? medscape un rejects haiti cholera compensation claims cholera and the thames un rejects haiti cholera compensation claims vibrio cholerae and asiatic cholera patient cholera and cholera vaccination


Research: indrani bhattacharyya, jayashree konar, pratip kumar kundu, dilip kumar bera, mohd. Samidul hoque. “changing epidemiological trend of cholera in west bengal: the giant is back”. Journal of evolution of medical and dental sciences 2013; vol. 2, issue 47, november 25; page: 9119-9123. chapter 24cholera, vibrio cholerae o1 and o139, and other pathogenic vibrios by richard a. Finkelstein. the origin of the haitian cholera outbreak strain by chen-shan chin et al., n engl j med 2011; 364:33-42january 6, 2011doi: 10.1056/nejmoa1012928 strategies to prevent cholera introduction during international personnel deployments: a computational modeling analysis based on the 2010 haiti outbreak by joseph a. Lewnard et al., a global map of suitability for coastal vibrio cholerae under current and future climate conditions by luis e. Escobar et al., acta tropica volume 149, september 2015, pages 202–211 comparing sociocultural features of cholera in three endemic african settings by christian schaetti et al, bmc medicine201311:206 doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-206 cholera, diarrhea, and oral rehydration therapy: triumph and indictment by richard l. Guerrant et al., clin infect dis. (2003) 37 (3):398-405.doi: 10.1086/376619


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Presentations/quiz/newspaper articles: daily mail el niño is spreading killer bacteria: researchers find cholera-like disease 'piggybacking' on weather phenomenon

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follow us: @mailonline on twitter | dailymail on facebook the atlantic how the u.n. Caused haiti's cholera crisis -- and won't be held responsible insider what's happening in haiti right now is the un's watergate dna india why cholera is more deadly in people with type o blood bbc news un rejects haiti cholera compensation claims

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