Cholera is a severe infectious disease that was common to India and some other tropical countries and sometimes spreading to temperate climates.
The signs of cholera are diarrhoea and the loss of water and salts in the stool. In severe cholera, the patient develops violent diarrhoea with characteristic "rice-water stools", vomiting, thirst, muscle cramps, and, sometimes, circulatory collapse. Death can occur as quickly as a few hours after the onset of symptoms. The mortality rate is more than 50 per cent in untreated cases, but falls to less than 1 per cent with effective treatment.
The causative agent of cholera is the bacterium Vibrio Cholerea, which was discovered in 1883 by the German doctor and bacteriologist Robert Koch. Virtually the only means by which a person can be infected is from food or water contaminated by bacteria from the stools of cholera patients. Prevention of the disease is therefore a matter of sanitation.
Control of the disease is still a major medical problem in several countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that78 per cent of the population in developing countries (especially in Asia) is without clean water and 85per cent without adequate faecal waste disposal. This has made it quite difficult the relevant people to control this disease.
Treatment consists mainly of intravenous or oral replacement of fluids and salts or what is better known as Oral Rehydratory Therapy (the salt, sugar and water solution) in Nigeria. Packets for dilution containing the correct mixture of sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and glucose have been made widely is also a good way of treating the disease. Most patients recover in three to six days. Antibiotics such as Tetracycline, Ampicillin, Chloramphenicol, and Trimethoprim-Sulphamethoxazole can shorten the duration of the disease.
A vaccine made from dead bacteria is available and offers partial protection for a period of three to six months after immunization. Attempts are also being made to develop a vaccine containing live bacteria that have been altered so that they do not produce the toxin.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited