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3 common causes of cholera and how to protect yourself

Here are the common causes and preventions of cholera.

Cholera is preventable with good hygiene practices and safe water consumption [Everyday Health]

Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes severe watery diarrhoea, leading to dehydration and even death if left untreated.

The infection spreads through contaminated food or water containing the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

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  1. Contaminated water, such as tap water from contaminated supplies, ice or drinks made from unclean water, and infected water used for growing vegetables.
  2. Poor sanitation: Faeces from an infected person can contaminate water sources if proper sanitation is lacking.
  3. Food-borne transmission: Eating contaminated and unhygienically prepared foods from street vendors, eating raw or undercooked seafood, and eating unwashed fruits and vegetables can harbour bacteria.

Cholera symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. While some experience minimal effects, others develop severe diarrhoea and vomiting within hours to five days of infection. Untreated dehydration can lead to shock and death within hours. This rapid fluid loss can lead to dehydration, with signs like:

  1. Rapid heartbeat
  2. Dry mouth and throat
  3. Loss of skin elasticity
  4. Low blood pressure
  5. Muscle cramps
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Cholera is preventable with good hygiene practices and safe water consumption. Here are some ways to prevent a cholera outbreak.

1. Drink only safe water: Avoid buying sachets of water as they are mostly unhygienically prepared and stored. Boil water for one minute (or longer at high altitudes), use chemical disinfection tablets, or stick to bottled water or filtered water.

3. Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet.

3. Avoid risky foods: Avoid buying food from street vendors. Don’t eat unpeeled fruits and vegetables, raw or undercooked fish and meat, or unpasteurized milk products.

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Cholera treatment focuses on rehydration. Depending on the severity, doctors will administer oral rehydration solutions or intravenous fluids. While antibiotics aren't always necessary, they can shorten the illness and prevent its further spread.

A cholera vaccine exists, but its recommendation depends on factors like travel plans and individual risk.

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