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close this bookCholera: Basic Facts for Travellers (WHO, 1998, 2 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentWhat is cholera?
View the documentWhat should I do if I think I may have cholera?
View the documentWhere are the outbreaks of cholera?
View the documentDo vaccinations work against cholera?
View the documentWhat can I do to avoid cholera?

What should I do if I think I may have cholera?

If you have diarrhoea, especially severe diarrhoea, in an area where there is cholera, seek treatment immediately from a physician or other trained health care provider. Begin drinking water and other non-sweetened fluids, such as soup, on the way to getting medical treatment.

The most important treatment of cholera is called rehydration and consists of prompt replacement of the water and salts lost through severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Early rehydration can save the lives of nearly all patients with cholera. Most patients can be rehydrated quickly and simply with a solution of oral rehydration slats (ORS). Packets of these salts are available from most city pharmacies and you should carry a supply with you when you travel. Follow the instructions on the packet when making up the solution. The solution is drunk in large quantities, sufficient to replace what has been lost from diarrhoea and vomiting.

Patients who become severely dehydrated may need to receive fluid intravenously. An effective antibiotic can also help to shorten the illness in patients with severe cholera. Antidiarrhoeal medicines, such as loperamide, are not recommended, and should never be given.