ABC Medical Center > Cholera

What is Cholera?

21:53 - 4 May , 2021


It is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes intense watery diarrhea and extreme dehydration due to the loss of fluids and salts in just a few hours, so if not treated in time it can be fatal. 

Cholera is caused by the bacteria called Vibrio cholerae, which secretes a toxin that increases the amount of water released by the cells lining the intestines, causing intense diarrhea. You get infected by eating contaminated food or water.

A significant percentage of infected people do not have symptoms, but the bacteria remain in the feces for 15 days, so their contagious capacity remains active during that period, returning to the environment and putting other people at risk.

Signs and symptoms Cholera

Symptoms can be moderate to severe, including the following: 

  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Severe dehydration.
  • Sudden and watery diarrhea.
  • Tiredness, weakness, and drowsiness. 
  • Low urine production.
  • Oral and nasal dryness.
  • Irritability.
  • Skin dryness. High blood pressure.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

As there is an electrolyte imbalance due to dehydration, cramps and dizziness appear, giving way to a hypovolemic shock that could be fatal.

Cholera bacteria is usually present in:

  • Water. 
  • Raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Grains.
  • Raw seafood and fish. 

Potential risks:

We are all exposed to getting cholera, but there are greater risks when the following situations occur:

  • Poor or null hygiene. 
  • Eating raw seafood.
  • Gastric acid decrease: people with low levels of gastric acid due to the intake of antacids are more likely to get infected.
  • Family environment: living with someone sick.

This condition can trigger a series of serious complications, such as:

  • Hypoglycemia.
  • Low potassium levels.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Hypovolemic shock.

Diagnosis and treatment Cholera

The best way to confirm cholera diagnosis is through a stool sample to detect the presence of the bacteria.

Due to the rapid evolution of the disease, it must be treated immediately, so the treatment consists of replacing lost fluids and electrolytes with an oral rehydration solution, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and, in some cases, zinc supplements.

One way to prevent cholera is through the application of the vaccine, especially if you are going to travel to areas with a high incidence of cholera, where you must take extreme preventive measures such as frequent hand hygiene, drinking bottled water, consuming only cooked and hot food, avoid raw seafood and fish, as well as raw salads and fruits that cannot be peeled.

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Alegre-García A, Roig-Fernández AE, Lamata-Subero M. Absceso tubo-ovárico en el contexto de enfermedad infecciosa intestinal por Vibrio cholerae. Ginecol Obstet Mex. 2021;89(07):556-560.
  • Mena MVR, Ávila OI, Cabrera BAC. Caracterización de las complicaciones de los pacientes diagnosticados con cólera en el Hospital Pediátrico de Centro Habana, 2013-2017. Rev Cubana Pediatr. 2020;92(1):1-14.
  • Quino W, Pompa IJ, Zamudio ML, et al. Validación de una técnica de PCR múltiplex para la detección de Vibrio cholerae toxigénica. Enf Infec Microbiol. 2019;39(1):19-27.
  • Mena MVR, Ávila OI, Cabrera BAC, et al. Caracterización clínica-epidemiológica según la edad de pacientes diagnosticados con cólera. Rev Cubana Pediatr. 2019;91(4):1-15.

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