Cholera The Forgotten Disease


Cholera The Forgotten Disease Essay, Research Paper

Cholera the Forgotten Disease

It seems every time we hear of a major flood or earthquake in a developing

country, we hear once again about cholera. Cholera has been very rare in industrial

nations, such as the USA, for the last 100 years, however, what we do not realize is that

cholera is endemic in many small countries which have limited drinking water and

sewage treatment facilities.

Caused by an infection of bacterium Vibrio Cholerae in the intestine, a cholera

infection is often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes is severe. Symptoms appear

2 to 3 days after initial exposure. Approximately one in 20 infected persons display

symptoms of water diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps; this rapid lose of body fluids

leads to dehydration and sometimes shock. These fluids must be replaced either

intravenously or by drinking liquids such as fruit juice, soup, or fluids called oral

rehydration salts, which replace electrolytes. Antibiotics may be proscribed to shorten the

duration of diarrhea and excretion of bacteria in feces. Without treatment, death may

occur in hours.

Although cholera can be life-threating, it can easily be prevented and treated. A

vaccine for cholera is available; however, it confers only brief, 2 to 6 months, and

incomplete immunity, only about 50% effective. It is not recommended. Since cholera is

still common in other parts of the world, everyone, especially travelers, should be aware

of how the disease is transmitted and what can be done to prevent it.

The disease is not likely to spread directly from one person to another; therefore,

casual contact with an infected person is not a risk for becoming ill. A person may get

cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae

bacterium. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the feces of an

infected person entering the main water source. The cholera bacterium may also live in

brackish rivers and coastal waters. Shellfish from infected waters can cause infection.

Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables irrigated with tainted water can also infect.

Prevention of cholera is easy. When in a possibly infected area: cook the food

properly, eat foods promptly after their preparation including shellfish, fruits and

vegetables, avoid drinking untreated water, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap


Cholera will not have great impact on me as a surgical technologist. It is not

common in the United States, and since it is not transmitted directly from person to

person, there is no risk of the Operating room staff transmitting the disease from the

patient. If an ill patient is scheduled, elective surgery will be postponed, and in the case

of emergency surgery on someone with cholera, their fluids will be monitored


In closing, cholera, although not prevalent, is a threat to world travelers. Education of

the causes, treatment, and prevention are a traveler?s first line of defense

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