Although cholera has been extremely rare in the United States, but since the 60’s when more and more people are traveling to other countries, several Americans are known to have contracted this disease. Because of this situation, it is a good idea to know more about it in order to prevent this from happening.
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine. Once a person has been infected, this individual will experience profuse watery diarrhea that in severe untreated cases can lead to rapid dehydration and death. This infection is always caused by swallowing food or water that has been contaminated by the bacteria known as vibrio. Sometimes there are shellfish that has this bacteria. According to “The American Medical Association,” cholera has been known for centuries in northeast India where there have been many outbreaks of this disease. Presently, this disease has shown up in Asia, Africa, and the Gulf Coast of North America. There have also been cases in Gulf of Mexico and around the Mediterranean.
The symptoms of cholera starts suddenly. This is why someone who travels a great deal should become aware of what the symptoms are.
Along with diarrhea, the person infected may also experience vomiting. Over a pint of fluid may be lost each hour and if not replaced, this loss of fluid will cause death within a few hours.
The treatment for cholera is to drink plenty of bottled water, enough to replace the fluid that has been lost. The following type of treatment is known as rehydration therapy: Sugar and salt is added to the water. It can be done orally or intravenously. The amount of fluid depends on the person’s age. When there is adequate rehydration, the patient can fully recover.
Travelers can prevent themselves from getting this disease by drinking only bottled water or boil all water before drinking. There is also a vaccine that can protect people from this disease. It is important to know that the protection this vaccine gives, only lasts six months and precaution should still be taken with the drinking water.
Usually, no country insists that travelers arriving directly from the US or Europe have a cholera vaccination certificate, but regulations change from time to time, and a certificate is sometimes required if a traveler has come from a country that is infected with cholera. International travelers should check vaccination requirements before departure.
Source: The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine