The primary thing in combating cholera is pure water. So the most helpful thing will be to have water filters or other water purifying equipment since cholera is spread by contaminated water.
Cholera meds needed urgently for Haiti
The treatment of cholera starts with hydration. They can have massive diarrhea, so replacement of fluid is primary. For that you can either use oral hydration with rehydration salt packets that you add to purified water or IV fluids for those unable to drink, or drink fast enough to keep up. Antibiotics are used to decreased transmission and shorten the duration, but are not necessary. The best antibiotics to use are ciprofloxacin (or another in the same class of fluoroquinolones) or doxycycline. The other thing to have on hand is a lot of disinfectant, like chlorine bleach, to disinfect areas where there are infected people.
So – where to get these supplies. WHO makes rehydration salts and would be a good place to start. For IV fluids and administration sets you could try World MAP in Brunswick GA, International Aid in Spring Lake, MI. I would expect other large NGO’s would have these also. They also may have the antibiotics. It actually doesn’t take too much antibiotic (usually just one dose will do if you’re in short supply – or max of 3 day treatment) – so if you wanted to purchase some, I could help you. Doxy and cipro are actually not very expensive.
John Seaman, MD