Cholera is often a mild diarrhea illness and can even go unnoticed. Severe cholera can cause a massive amount of “rice water” diarrhea. Vomiting is often seen. Dehydration can occur rapidly and is marked with increased heart rate (tachycardia), low blood pressure (hypotension), dry mucous membranes and thirst.
The cornerstone of treatment for cholera is rehydration. This can be accomplished with either oral fluids or through the intravenous (IV) route. If properly treated, the mortality rate drops to less than 1%. Electrolytes are an important part of the treatment. Oral rehydration solutions (ORS) such as Ceralyte , EmergenC or sports drinks such as Gatorade can be used for oral replacement. Severe cases can be treated with antibiotics which have been shown to shorten the length of disease and decrease fluid requirements. Tetracycline, Doxycycline, Erythromycin or Ciprofloxacin are commonly used options.
Food and water precautions are essential. Hand washing after personal contact and especially before preparing meals or eating is vital. Ensure you are drinking from purified sources and using safe water for cooking, as well. Chemoprophylaxis is not necessary or indicated.