Cholera is a
bacterial infection that has an effect on
the intestines. It happens
when a germ called Vibrio cholerae gets into your body. Even though a few cases of cholera are recognized in the
U.S.A. every year, outbreak levels of cholera have lately been reported in
parts of Central and South America.
While cholera doesn’t appear often in the United States, those who may be in danger include people traveling to distant countries where outbreaks occur more often. People who eat raw or undercooked seafood from warm coastal waters could get cholera because of sewage pollution that is in the water. Some of the pollution is human and animal waste, and some is garbage.
cholerae is passed in waste. Eating food or drinking water
that is polluted by the waste of an infected person spreads it. This
happens more often in 3rd world countries where they don't have enough
money to pay for water treatment.
who are unprotected against cholera might experience mild to severe
diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Fever
usually doesn’t happen. These
symptoms may appear from about three hours to five days after exposure.
of the quick dehydration that might happen because of severe diarrhea or
throwing up, it is extremely important for the patient to get fluids back
into his/her body by mouth or by putting fluid in through the veins.
Medicines, such as tetracycline, are also used to get rid of
diarrhea swifter than usual.
vaccine is always available and sometimes it is recommended for travelers
who are going to certain foreign countries where cholera is occurring.
However, the vaccine only gives 50% protection for a short time
period (about two to six months). Some
physicians think that foreign travelers almost never spread cholera and
that use of the current vaccine can’t be defended.
The most important defensive plan is to try not to eat or drink uncooked foods or water in foreign countries where cholera occurs unless they’re checked and approved to be safe or have been properly treated.
New York State Communicable Disease, “Cholera.” http://www.health.state.my.us/nysdoh/communicable_diseases/en.cholera.htm (October, 2003).
Images of boy and thermometer from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?cag=1> Images free for non-profit and personal use. (October-February, 2003-2004).
Bernstein, Joanne E. and Paul Cohen. Dizzy Doctor Riddles. Niles, Illinois: Albert Whitman & Company. 1989.
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