Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cholera in Haiti

Cholera is a bacterial infection of the intestine, transmitted via contaminated water. In a nutshell, it's diarrhea so severe that death from dehydration can occur within hours. According to Wikipedia, "an untreated person may produce 10 to 20 liters of diarrhea per day." What a way to go.

My company has stopped travel to Haiti until the present epidemic subsides, but even once it does the illness will likely have become endemic. Figured it couldn't hurt to gather some knowledge before my next visit.

I was surprised to learn how widespread Cholera is in the third world, and how common it was in the US and Europe before the development of modern sanitation practices. The outcomes of battles and even wars were decided by "General Cholera".

Fortunately, treatment for Cholera or any other form of Montezuma's Revenge is simple and safe: Replace fluids and electrolytes with a mixture of water, sugar, salt and potassium in the proper ratios. Commercial "oral rehydration solutions" are available and a good idea for your home's medical kit. If you get caught unprepared, here's a homemade recipe:

1 teaspoon of salt
8 teaspoons of sugar
4 ounces of orange juice or mashed banana
1 quart of water

No comments: