Cholera is a bacterial disease that infects the small intestine. The bacteria, Vibro cholerae, is a comma shaped bacterium found in contaminated water and food. People drinking or eating food such as shellfish can become infected with the illness, which causes symptoms such as diarrhea and dehydration.
A report of an outbreak in India from the Bengal Delta, now known as the Ganges Delta, came from a Portuguese historian named Gaspar Correa. In 1817, people traveling across India became ill from rice that was later found to be contaminated. The illness spread from India, making its way to Thailand and Indonesia, taking the lives of thousands of people. From Thailand the illness soon made its way to the Philippines, eventually spreading to China and Japan.
In 1823, after six years, the first cholera pandemic had ended. The second pandemic would begin in 1829, with the illness first appearing in Europe. Military and trade routes from Eastern Asia and the Middle East are said to be the cause of the second pandemic. Russia’s capital, Moscow, first encountered the disease in the fall of 1830. Cholera later traveled to Finland and Poland in the spring of 1831, eventually making its way to Hungary, Germany, and Britain. The disease would soon make its way to North America, South America, and years later to Haiti and countries in Africa, including Yemen, who continues to fight the outbreak to this day.
In total, there are 7 cholera pandemics that have occurred to date, affecting people in over 120 countries. Some people confirmed that they experienced mild symptoms, while others did not experience any symptoms at all. Mild symptoms can be treated with an oral rehydration solution, also known as ORS, in which sugar, salt, and water are mixed to replenish fluid levels.
While some may not show symptoms at all, some experience severe symptoms including “watery diarrhea sometimes described as rice water stools,” rapid heart rate, dry mucous membranes, and loss of skin elasticity. Severe symptoms will need to be treated within hours to save a person’s life. The CDC says there have been an approximately 2,000-6,000 deaths reported yearly. However, they advise the estimate is way higher, up to above over 100,000 per year that have gone unreported.
People living in areas where there is poor sanitation and no clean drinking water are still susceptible to becoming infected with cholera. Health practices have been put into action from the FDA and CDC. The FDA approved several vaccines to be used for people traveling to cholera infected areas. The CDC has created the Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) system to help stop the spread of the disease.
Health officials have created a group called the Global Task Force on Cholera Control, helping fight the spread of cholera. The task force created a “Global Roadmap” to plan out strategies to help stop the spread. By 2030, the group is hopeful they will be able to decrease the number of people losing their lives to this disease. To find out more information you can go to the following link: https://www.gtfcc.org/country-progress/