Has cholera returned to Spain after 30 years?

The risk of cholera infection is almost nil for the general population. The case has occurred in a farm with non-drinking water.

The Ministry of Health has ruled out that the young woman who fell ill in Toledo It was the first case of autochthonous cholera in Spain. The Carlos III Health Institute in Madrid carried out an exhaustive analysis after learning of the case and came to the conclusion that the girl, who drank water from a non-potable water sourceactually suffered”vibrio gastroenteritis“, which reveals the presence of cholera bacteria in the water but the absence of the disease virus in the affected water.

The young woman suffered mild symptoms a few hours after drinking water in a farm that was also sealed due to suspicions, but was released shortly after.

When the case was known, the specialists were quick to ensure that in reality “The risk is almost nil for the general population. As several people responsible for public health and research have already said, with the water quality controls that exist in our country, a catastrophe for contamination to reach the water supply networks”, points out Jacob Lorenzo-MoralesFull Professor of the Area of ​​Parasitology and Director of the University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of the Canary Islands of the University of La Laguna.

what is cholera

Cholera is an infection caused by bacteria Vibrio cholerae who stays in the intestine and can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. In the case of this girl, the analyzes have been able to identify the virus Vibrio Cholerae 01 non-toxigenicand it seems that for this reason he has not developed the disease.

It is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water, which is why it practically no longer exists in rich countries, although cases of cholera are still frequent in Africa, Haiti or the Southeast Asian.

According to the World Health Organization, each year there are between 1.3 and 4 million cases of cholera in the world, and between 21,000 and 143,000 deaths from this cause.

cholera symptoms

Many people who become infected with this bacteria do not develop symptoms or they are mild, but they can infect others because they are eliminated through the stool for one or two weeks. Only a minority may experience acute watery diarrhea with severe dehydration, which may be lethal if left untreatedsays the WHO.

The usual symptoms caused by a cholera infection are, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Diarrhea: Appears suddenly and can cause large fluid loss (up to 1 liter per hour).
  • Nausea and vomiting: They occur early in the infection and can last for hours.
  • dehydration: It is the consequence of vomiting and diarrhea. If you lose 10% of your body weight it is serious. Symptoms that accompany dehydration are dry mouth, fatigue, sunken eyes, dry skin, little urine, low blood pressure, or irregular heartbeat.

Dehydration can cause mineral loss, which can lead to cramps (due to the loss of solium, chloride and potassium) and in extreme cases what is known as shock (lowering blood volume lowers blood pressure and oxygen in the body) which can cause death.

How cholera is treated

The risk of cholera in rich countries is low, although there are cases of cholera all over the world. If you suffer from intense diarrhea, go to the doctor immediately because it should not be ruled out that it is cholera. The dehydration is one of the complications that can appear and it is a medical emergency.

In any case, there is no need to be alarmed because, according to the WHO, the Cholera is a disease that is easily treated.

  • “Most cases can be treated satisfactorily by prompt administration of oral rehydration salts (ORS). The standard ORS sachet dissolves in 1 liter of water. Adult patients may need up to 6 liters of ORS to treat moderate dehydration on the first day.”point.
  • “The sick with severe dehydration are at risk of shock and require prompt administration of intravenous fluids. These patients should also receive antibiotics appropriate to shorten the duration of diarrhoea, reduce the volume of rehydration fluids required, and reduce the magnitude and duration of faecal excretion of V. cholerae”Add.

In any case, the WHO reminds that Mass administration of antibiotics is not recommended because it has no proven effect on the spread of cholera and may contribute to antimicrobial resistance”. So they should only be used in severe cases.

The zinc is an appropriate adjunctive treatment for children under 5 years, as it reduces the duration of diarrhea and can prevent future episodes of other causes of acute watery diarrhoea.

How can you get infected with cholera?

We have already said that the bacterium responsible for cholera is the Vibrio choleraewhich produces a toxin in the small intestine that can be fatal. sources of infection The most common cholera infections are the following, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • contaminated well water. Public wells with untreated water are the main cause of cholera outbreaks.
  • raw seafood or undercooked from contaminated sites.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables from places where there is anger.
  • Grain such as rice from regions with cholera outbreaks.

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