What is Cholera?
Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by intestinal infection with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. An estimated 1.3 to 4 million people around the world get cholera each year and 21,000 to 143,000 people die from it. People who get cholera often have mild symptoms or no symptoms, but cholera can be severe. Approximately 1 in 10 people who get sick with cholera will develop severe symptoms such as watery diarrhoea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
How does it spread?
A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium.
Large epidemics are often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or street vended foods. The disease is occasionally spread through eating raw or undercooked shellfish that are naturally contaminated.
What are the symptoms of Cholera?
About 1 in 10 people with cholera will experience severe symptoms, which, in the early stages, include:
- profuse watery diarrhea, sometimes described as “rice-water stools”
- leg cramps
- restlessness or irritability
Staff should be vigilant for signs of dehydration.
Why is this important?
If NIAS staff are aware that the patient has a suspected or confirmed Cholera this should be communicated to EAC and ED staff when transferring the patient to ensure effective patient care and management. It also ensures that staff adhere to Contact precautions to prevent staff exposure.
- Hand Hygiene should be completed as per the 5 moments in line with usual practice with Soap and Water.
- Eye protection should be risk assessed for any concern regarding a splash risk.
- Gloves and Aprons should be worn.
- The patient should be transported via ambulance with no other patients present.
- All equipment and the ambulance should have a deep clean paying particular attention to touch points.
- Laundry should be treated as contaminated, placed into an alginate bag and placed into a red laundry bag.
Do staff need prophylaxis or follow up?
If appropriate PPE is worn there is no follow up required for staff. Staff should remain vigilant for any signs or symptoms.
The IPC team can be contacted for further advice. The team will be able to help staff risk assess the patient and precautions required and to provide support where required.