Although cholera can be life-threatening, it's easily prevented and treated. Successful treatment requires the replacing of fluids and salts lost through diarrhoea.
Depending on the condition of the patient, a pre-packed mixture of sugar and salts can be mixed with water and drunk in large quantities.
If the patient is too weak to drink, fluids can be given intravenously. With prompt rehydration, fewer than 1% of cholera patients die.
Although antibiotics may shorten the duration of the symptoms, they're not as important as rehydration. Rehydration is the most important part of the treatment regime. For really ill patients, tetracycline used to be the drug of choice, but the South African bacteria are resistant to this antibiotic. Therefore, the recommended drug is ciprofloxacin (Ciprobay from Bayer Pharmaceuticals).
Is there a vaccine for cholera?
Which countries are most at risk?