Risk Factors of Cholera
Everyone is susceptible to cholera, with the exception of infants who get immunity from nursing mothers who have previously had cholera. Still, certain factors can make you more vulnerable to the disease or more likely to have severe signs and symptoms.
Risk factors for cholera include:
Poor sanitary conditions
Cholera is more likely to flourish in situations where a sanitary environment — including a safe water supply — is difficult to maintain. Such conditions are common to refugee camps, impoverished countries, and areas afflicted by famine, war or natural disasters.
Reduced or non-existent stomach acid
Cholera bacteria can’t survive in an acidic environment, and ordinary stomach acid often serves as a defense against infection. But people with low levels of stomach acid — such as children, older adults, and people who take antacids, H-2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors — lack this protection, so they’re at greater risk of cholera.
You’re at increased risk of cholera if you live with someone who has the disease.
Type O blood
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, people with type O blood are twice as likely to develop cholera compared with people with other blood types.
Raw or undercooked shellfish
Although industrialized nations no longer have large-scale cholera outbreaks, eating shellfish from waters known to harbour the bacteria greatly increases your risk.
People can contract cholera when they drink water or eat food containing cholera bacteria. The bacteria can spread from an infected person if they handle food without washing their hands first or relieve themselves into a water source. Drinking unclean water or using it to wash food or other items puts people at risk of infection.
Also, some people who are exposed to the cholera bacterium don’t become ill and so don’t know they’ve been infected. But because they shed cholera bacteria in their faeces for seven to 14 days, they can still infect others through contaminated water.
Food can become contaminated when it comes into contact with contaminated water. Dirty hands can also contaminate clean drinking water and food.