Treatments Available for Cholera
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is spread through contaminated water sources. The symptoms of cholera can include diarrhea and dehydration. It can be fatal in mere hours if left untreated. However, the threat of this disease has been almost completely eliminated in industrialized nations thanks to modern water treatment facilities. Still, there are some rare cases here and there, and thus it’s helpful to have a working knowledge of the available treatments.
(For anyone visiting this page, you should know that we are currently enrolling people for a cholera vaccine clinical trial in DeLand, FL.)
Effective Water Sanitation Practices
If you have contracted cholera, then you should seek immediate treatment as death can occur within hours. If you live in or are visiting an area that is at risk for cholera outbreak, than be very careful about the water you drink. Protect yourself by drinking water that has been chemically disinfected, properly boiled, or is bottled. Take these precautions when using water for the following purposes:
- Preparing food
- Making ice
- Washing your hands or face
- Brushing your teeth
- Washing your utensils or dishes prior to eating
- Washing any fruits or vegetables
If you want to properly disinfect your water supply, you can either boil it for a full minute or filter the water and add a couple drops of bleach or half a iodine tablet per liter of water.
Using raw foods could also pose a significant risk for contracting cholera in these at risk areas. People are recommended to avoid the following:
- Unpasteurized milk and dairy products
- Raw or undercooked shellfish or meat
- Fish taken from tropical reefs
- Unpeeled fruits and vegetables
If you have contracted cholera, then the following treatments could save your life:
- Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS): An ORS solution will help replace lost fluids and electrolytes. It is available in powder form and can be reconstituted in bottled or boiled water. This may be the single most important treatment for cholera, as half of all people who contract cholera die if they are not rehydrated.
- Intravenous Fluids: If a person has become severely dehydrated, they may not be able to keep any water down orally. Under these circumstances, doctors will need to use intravenous fluids to rehydrate their patients.
- Antibiotics: These aren’t necessary for cholera, but antibiotics can be used to treat cholera-induced diarrhea. Usually, only a single dose of azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) or doxycycline (Adoxa, Monodox) will do the trick.
- Zinc Supplements: Clinical studies have shown how zinc can be used to treat diarrhea in children who have contracted this bacterial disease.
If you start to experience severe vomiting or diarrhea – especially when traveling in a country where cholera still poses a serious risk – you must seek immediate medical attention. This disease can be easily treated, but symptoms can cause lethal dehydration rapidly. It is very important to start treatment as soon as possible.