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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Health Crisis - Focus on Cholera and Anthrax - Index of articles

  • Cholera guidelines
    Oxfam GB - Zimbabwe
    November 21, 2008


    1. Cholera is extremely contagious.
    2. Be obsessed about washing your hands with soap and drinking clean water.
    3. Be aware of the symptoms - extremely watery, white diarrhoea.
    4. Curing cholera is very simple: REHYDRATION using Oral rehydration solution, sugar and salt solution immediately.
    5. Failure to observe the rule of rehydration immediately can result in severe dehydration and death.


    Cholera is caused by a bacteria. Not a virus. The bacterium is called Vibrio cholerae.

    The main routes of faecal-oral transmission are through:

    • Not washing your hands with soap after the toilet or touching an infected person,
    • consuming contaminated water,
    • and eating contaminated food that is not cooked properly.


    • Once infected, a person can develop the symptoms within hours (but usually 2-3 days). The symptoms are extremely watery diarrhoea that is white in colour, like the colour of water from cooking rice.
    • However, 80% of people who are infected with the bacteria either do not show any symptoms at all or only get mild normal diarrhoea.
    • Cholera diarrhoea is painless. There are no cramps or other pain like other types of diarrhoea.
    • Cholera does not cause blood in the faeces.
    • There is no fever associated with cholera.
    • Vomiting is common.
    • Severe cholera can cause you to lose massive volumes of fluids (severe dehydration) in hours, which means that if rehydration does not take place quick enough, severe illness and death can occur. It is possible to lose from 10 to 20 litres per day. All of that must be replaced of course. Such severe dehydration will require medical rehydration using intravenous rehydration.

    If you think you have the symptoms, go to your nearest health centre. Immediately. Even if it is 4 o'clock in the morning.

    Cholera does not cause death. Severe dehydration causes death.


    There is no reason at all that anyone should die of cholera, as it is a very easy disease to cure.

    Simply it requires consumption of lots of ORS/Sugar and Salt Solution.

    Once you think you have the symptoms mentioned above you should begin to consume a lot of ORS/Sugar and Salt Solution.

    Sugar and Salt Solution is made as follows 6 teaspoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt in a 750ml container.

    Go to your nearest health facility.


    • Be obsessed about washing your hands. After BABY (defecating), after shaking hands with people, after visits to the hospital or Cholera Treatment Centers, etc. This sounds obvious, but surprisingly we become very lazy at this.
    • Contaminated water is a major cause of getting cholera. Treatment of water is effective with chlorine or boiling for a minimum of one minute. If you're not sure its clean...DON'T DRINK IT.
    • For the duration of the outbreak do not consume market food that is uncooked or not cooked properly. This includes foods that have water sprinkled on them. Fruits that can be peeled such as bananas, oranges, etc are fine but remember to wash your hands with soap before peeling them.
    • Like most diarrhoeal bacterias, you can carry the bacteria for up to several weeks after being infected without being affected. It is important to always be careful
    • Aquatabs can be used to disinfect water.

    When using aquatabs:

    Put one tablet into 20-25 litres of water and cover the container. Wait for 30 minutes for the tablet to dissolve before drinking the water Never swallow the tablet- it must dissolve in 20-25 litres of water

    Note: Aquatabs are not for treating diarrhoea. They only disinfect water.

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