What Is Cholera?
In order to make a cholera diagnosis, the doctor will need to ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam to look for signs of cholera and fluid loss. If the doctor suspects cholera, he or she will ask for a stool sample. This sample will be examined under a microscope for evidence of Vibrio cholerae (see Pictures of Cholera).
In countries where cholera occurs, anyone who develops severe diarrhea and vomiting should seek prompt medical . When a diagnosis is made, treatment should begin immediately. If treatment is started early, cholera symptoms and complications can be minimized. Treatments for cholera can include:
- Antibiotics (medicine that can kill the bacteria)
- Fluid replacement.
If treatment is started in a timely manner and in adequate volumes, the mortality rate is reduced to well below 1 percent. Without proper treatment, the mortality rate is between 25 and 50 percent.
Cholera was prevalent in the 1800s, but has been virtually eliminated in the United States by modern sewage and water treatment systems. However, as a result of improved transportation, more people from the United States are traveling to parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where epidemic cholera is occurring. For these people, prevention of cholera involves avoiding contaminated food and water.
Currently, there is no recommended cholera vaccine that can prevent the disease.