Cholera Outbreak in Myanmar

Around 200 people on the Myanmar side of the border with Tak province in Thailand have contracted cholera and 11 of them died. While there have been no reported outbreaks in Thailand. The outbreak in Myanmar began in May.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholera. A person can get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium. In an epidemic, the source of the contamination is usually the faeces of an infected person that contaminates water and/or food.

Cholera infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. Approximately one in ten infected persons will have severe disease characterised by profuse 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.

Cholera can be simply and successfully treated by immediate replacement of the fluid and salts lost through diarrhoea. Patients can be treated with oral rehydration solution, a pre-packaged mixture of sugar and salts to be mixed with water and drunk in large amounts.

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