Although rare in industrialized countries, cholera is an unpleasant malady that often rears its ugly head here in the Philippines. Learn to recognize the symptoms and prevent infection.
Symptoms Cholera is an acute form of diarrhea, with nausea and vomiting caused by the bacterium, Vibrio cholerae. The stool is voluminous and watery with small flecks of rice in it and has a distinct fishy odor. This causes rapid dehydration presenting with excessive thirst, fatigue, muscle cramps, drying of skin, and mouth, rapid and thready pulse and stupor. Infants and children should be checked for fever, sunken fontanelles, lack of tears, sleepiness/inactivity and glassy or sunken eyes.
Causes Cholera usually gets transmitted to humans by eating contaminated food or drinking tainted water. This makes coming into contact with floodwater a potential cholera hazard. In epidemics, the source of the bacterium can be the stool of an infected individual combined with inadequately treated sewage tainting drinking water sources.
For cholera, the initial presentation of the illnesses could be very non-specific. Children should be closely observed for symptoms, as they are especially susceptible. Patients showing any suspicious signs of infection should be taken promptly to the hospital as cholera may cause rapid deterioration and death within hours.
Treatment Replace lost body fluid by giving your child an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORESOL) or a homemade solution composed of one teaspoon of salt, four teaspoons of sugar mixed with one liter of water. If diarrhea persists, take your child to the nearest hospital. Treatment for cholera includes antibiotics, supportive care but replacement of fluids and salts is the main priority in a cholera patient.
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Preventive Measures This is an infectious disease brought about by poor sanitation and contamination from infected individuals. The DOH has advised the public with these basic tips to prevent these illnesses:
Drink safe water only. If you are unsure of your water, extend the boiling of drinking water to 2 minutes or more after it has reached the boiling point.
Do water chlorination.
Wash and cook food properly.
Clean your surroundings regularly and inspect them thoroughly for breeding areas of insects, rats, or flies.
Protect food from rats or insects.
Keep toilets clean and sanitarily dispose of wastes.
Wash your hands with soap after using the toilet and before eating or handling food.
Dissuade children from wading and playing in floodwater. Boots may be used if possible to avoid contact with floodwater.