Life threatening Cholera

August 15, 2012

Health

KATHMANDU: Cholera — most of the headlines read this nowadays. And doctors fear an outbreak in the Capital. Perhaps now everyone will start taking it seriously, which is unfortunate, but true. The point is not to panic anyone but to spread awareness. After all cholera can be prevented with proper hygiene and it can be stopped from becoming an epidemic. Before all this however, you need to know the basics about cholera. When you are well informed, spread the word because you never know you might be saving someone’s life. Yes, cholera can result in death.

What is cholera?

It is a devastating diarrhoeal disease. It is an infection of small intestines caused by vibrio.cholerae. “It is a public health concern in the developing world today as it can cause rapidly progressive dehydration and death in a matter of hours,” highlights Dr Rakshya Shrestha, MD, internal medicine, Institute of Medicine, TU, Teaching Hospital. Nonetheless, if fluid is given promptly “death can be avoided”.

It is important to understand that there are common ways to get cholera such as drinking water or eating food contaminated by the stool of an infected person. “Thus, it will be wrong to say it is contagious.”

However, the severity of cholera is greatest in people of blood group ‘O’, while ‘AB’ are at least risk. “The reason for this is unexplained,” adds Dr Shrestha.

Symptoms

When it comes to symptoms some can be asymptomatic or have only mild diarrhoea, while some others have life threatening diarrhoea with “10 to 20 litres of diarrhoea per day”. Moreover, severity depends on the immunity, blood type and nutritional status of a person. Therefore, as per the doctor there is “no vulnerable age group rather vulnerability depends on nutrition and  immunity”.

Other symptoms are very sudden painless, watery, large volume of diarrhoea along with vomiting. “So if fluid and electrolyte are not replaced promptly, death may occur,” warns Dr Shrestha and adds “Fever is usually absent in such cases, but there will be muscle cramps.”

Diarrhoea that occurs in cholera is called ‘rice stool’, because it appears like water after the rice is washed. “There is no mucus or blood here.”

It is important to understand that if a large volume of fluid is lost in diarrhoea “there will a drop in blood pressure, decreased urine, generalised weakness and coma may occur”. Kidney also may be affected “so the person should be given adequate fluid and electrolyte, which will help the disease dissolve in a few days”.

Diagnosis and treatment

When it comes to diagnosis “it is mainly clinical”. It can be confirmed by identifying vibrio.cholerae in stool.

The main focus of treatment according to Dr Shrestha is “adequate fluid must be replaced and ORS must be given”. In case, if you are unable to purchase ORS sachet, you can prepare this at home and Dr Shrestha instructs “add half teaspoon of table salt and four teaspoons of table sugar to one litre of water”. So the more you consume this, the better it is.

Also bananas or green coconut water should be taken to replace potassium. “If a person cannot take it orally, then it has to be given intravenously.”

Dr Shrestha also highlights that World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended giving antibiotic to cholera patients only if they have severe dehydration.

News Sources: The Himalayan Times: SHRADHA PAL : Added At:  2012-08-13 9:15 PM :  Last Updated At: 2012-08-13 9:15 PM

About Local

Mr. Local is a keen environmentalist and a firm believer of Eco Tourism. His philosophy has always been to be actively involved in all aspects of the company. He still leads treks on occasions especially to high altitude in order to remain in touch with both his staffs and clients on the ground.

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