Cholera: Cholera and Cholera Strike People Essay

Submitted By timeafternow
Words: 2160
Pages: 9

Cholera is a potentially deadly disease caused by bacterial infection in the small intestine. It can often be identified through its predominant symptoms of heavy diarrhea and vomiting. Causes, preventive measures and treatment vary and will be covered in detail in this paper. The goal of this paper is to give a comprehensive overall understanding of this disease, which affects 3-5 million people every year, including over 100,000 deaths annually. In the second half of this paper, I will go more in depth on the book, ‘The Cholera Years’ by Charles E. Rosenberg, and analyze the research therein.
The first recorded instance of cholera was in 1817, when it was spread through the trade routes from India to Russia, and subsequently also to the European and North American continents. Over history, there have been seven pandemics that are the result of cholera in the last two hundred years. These pandemics have occurred everywhere in the world, from the Bengal region of India for the first pandemic to the 1961 pandemic in Indonesia. Its reach peaked in the 19th century, when it killed millions of people and became one of the most dangerous diseases of large proportion.
Research on the disease began in 1900, when the first vaccine was invented by the Russian scientist, Waldemar Haffkine. Later on, a breakthrough was made by Dr. John Snow, when he made the causation between infected drinking water and cholera. Nowadays, cholera is often used to study virus and its behavior, due to other pathogens being similar in compositional nature.
Cholera causes many different symptoms, including severe fatigue, but its most identifiable signs are diarrhea and vomiting. Note that, contrary to regular occurrences, the diarrhea in this case is usually painless, and the vomiting is usually that of clear liquid, which means that large proportions of water is being flushed out of the victim. These symptoms may occur anywhere from a day up to a week following the consumption of the problematic bacteria. The diarrhea has been called “rice water” in texture and color, which is different from the very dark hue of regular diarrhea. In addition, cholera is often called the “blue death” because the victim’s skin turns blue in color due to the rapid loss of fluids (“Cholera”). Of course, the biggest reason for death due to cholera is the severe dehydration. If not urgently treated, it may result in low blood pressure and an alarmingly high pulse rate.
The mortality rate varies drastically depending on whether it is promptly treated or not. Properly treated cholera has a rate of less than 1%, while untreated cholera has a rate of over 50% (Kraft). Certain different strains have very differently mortality rates as well, depending on antibiotic resistance and other factors. From current research, it has been determined that cholera is mainly transmitted by the contamination of food and water from the feces (waste product) of an infected person. However, it is worth noting that that is not always the case, as the bacterium in question can exist in virtually any environment. As with many other types of disease, people with a lower immune system, including the sick and elderly, suffer a higher chance of becoming infected and developing serious health issues as a consequence. With that being said, most cases of cholera strike people who are perfectly healthy, and in good shape. The most common form of transmission depends on the country that you live in. In most of the developed world, seafood is the most common cause, almost exclusively carried by shellfish and plankton (“Cholera”). Meanwhile, in developing countries, water is the prevalent cause, due to the lack of clean water supply in many regions. One vicious cycle that occurs is the untreated diarrhea of an infected individual seeping through to waterways and eventually into the drinking water supply. The bacteria then affects many other people in the region, when they drink the contaminated water or