Cholera is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called Vibrio cholerae. The bacteria can enter your child’s body when he drinks dirty water or eats food contaminated or polluted with the bacteria. It can make adults and children get sick quickly and can be fatal.
Your child may get it when traveling. It is not common in the US.
The bacteria can live in salty (brackish) rivers and water near a coastline. The bacteria can also live in the animal or human intestine in someone who is infected. Bowel movements can spread the bacteria to soil or water.
Your child may get infected if:
Symptoms can start within a few hours or up to five days after your child gets infected. Your child may not have symptoms if he has a mild infection. In some cases, your child may have serious symptoms within hours of infection such as:
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your provider needs to know your child’s recent travel history. Tests may include:
Have your child drink enough liquids to keep his urine clear to light yellow in color.
If your child has severe diarrhea, your child’s body can lose too much fluid and can get dehydrated. Dehydration can be very dangerous, especially for children and older adults. Your child may also be losing minerals that his body needs to keep working normally. Your child’s healthcare provider may recommend an oral rehydration solution (ORS), which is a drink that replaces fluids and minerals. You can buy an ORS at drug and grocery stores. Follow package directions for mixing powders or taking frozen products. Have your child drink small amounts over several hours if he has vomiting along with diarrhea.
If you don’t have an ORS, you can have your child drink clear broth or water mixed with fruit juice. These are easy for your child’s body to absorb. Avoid concentrated fruit juices, dark sodas, milk, and milk products. They are not as easily absorbed and usually have too much sugar.
For serious cases, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic and IV fluids. Your child may need to stay in the hospital to get enough fluids.
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your child’s healthcare provider. In addition:
Ask your child’s healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
To keep from getting cholera when you are visiting an affected area: