Cholera in Kerala: Signs and symptoms, prevention and treatment

The state health department is taking preventive measures and has also asked people to stay vigilant about cholera. Photo: iStock/bin kontan

A 26-year-old youth died in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram recently and 10 others are undergoing treatment, after getting infected by cholera. It's an outbreak after many years, with the last case being reported in 2016. The disease, which spreads through contaminated food and water, can be fatal if left untreated. The state health department is taking preventive measures and has also asked people to stay vigilant about the disease, which infects around 1.3 million people every year. 

Cholera symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of the disease are:
1) Sudden, severe diarrhoea that results in quick fluid loss.
2) Vomiting that goes on for hours
3)Mild to severe dehydration. "It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in the body. If untreated, severe hypovolemic shock can cause death in minutes," says the website of Mayo Clinic. 
4)Fatigue, dry mouth and skin, extreme thirst and irritability
5) Muscle cramps due to electrolyte imbalance
6) Low levels of potassium

How to prevent cholera
1) Make sure your drinking water is pure. Avoid sourcing it from untreated water bodies and if you are forced to, purify it with tablets, distillation or boiling.
2) Make washing your hands with soap regularly, a habit. 
3) Eat only well-cooked food items and avoid raw foods, especially those that can harbour bacteria easily, like seafood, fruits and water. 
4) Drink water level, use the Oral Rehydration Solution aka ORS to ensure you are maintaining your hydration levels.
5) Seek prompt medical care if you are affected by the disease

Make sure your drinking water is pure. Photo: Shutterstock/Prostock-studio

Cholera treatment 
1) Rehydrate your body with ORS or clean water - sugar - salt mix to replace lost electrolytes
2) Drink lots of water, but avoid dehydrating drinks like alcohol and caffeine.
3) Get adequate rest to recover from the illness
4) Keep monitoring symptoms and if you feel they are worsening, seek immediate medical care.
5) Once the patient is slightly better, eat easy-to-digest food items.
6) Note that the treatment of the disease calls for close monitoring and treatment with intravenous fluids, which can be provided the best in a hospital. So, do not delay hospital admission whenever it is warranted. 
How does cholera spread?
Cholera spreads through food and water contaminated with the faeces of a person who is infected. It often happens when the water and food consumed are not sourced or prepared in hygienic conditions. 

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