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  • Food poisoning may be mistaken for cholera, acute bacillary dysentery and chemical (arsenic) poisoning. The differentiating points between cholera and food poisoning are given in Table1.

Table 1
Differential Points Between Cholera and Food Poisoning

  Cholera Food poisoning
Epidemiology Occurs often in epidemic form associated with other cases in the neighborhood. Secondary cases occur. Often a single group of persons who shared a common meal.  No secondary cases.
Incubation From a few hours up to 5 days. 1–24 hours.
Onset With purring. With vomiting.
Nausea and retching None. Present.
Vomiting Projectile, effortless, watery and continuous. Often single, severe vomit mucus and blood streaked.
Stools Copious rice watery, inoffensive. Frequent, may contain mucus and blood, offensive.
Tenesmus None. Yes.
Abdominal tenderness None. Yes.
Dehydration Very marked. Distinct.
Muscular cramps Constant and severe. Less constant.
Surface temperature Subnormal. Often up to 100–102 deg F.
Headache None. Often.
Urine Suppressed. Seldom suppressed.
Blood Leucocytosis. Normal.