Come for the Cholera, Stay for the Knowledge

In terms of diseases, ones that cause epidemics and pandemics often take the spotlight due to their ability to cause widespread panic. Cholera, from the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, is one of the oldest diseases that still causes the deaths of thousands every year. It does so by severely dehydrating the diseased person which quickly leads to acute renal and organ failure. Throughout history there have been countless epidemics and we are currently in the seventh pandemic that has gone global. Although we know the way the disease is transmitted (feces contamination) and the mechanism behind it, there is still much work to be done. New ways to fend off cholera are crucial to preventing outbreaks that can happen at any time, especially in areas where war and natural disasters are common. It should be mentioned that while cholera is often thought of as a disease that only affects developing nations, developed nations are no less susceptible to this deadly disease given its ability to pass through undercooked seafood and contaminated food. One of the most interesting and important things to understand about cholera is that its treatment is relatively simple, intravenous replenishing of fluids and antibiotics; however, this isn’t an option for those who don’t have reliable access to hospitals. If left untreated, there is a 50-70% chance that the person will die within a day due to the dehydration that leads to organ failure. The reason why cholera is still an important area of research is because it can cause large outbreaks relatively quickly and they are often difficult to contain. In addition, new strains and mutations of cholera have been found that make them particularly aggressive. As ancient as cholera is, there is still much we don’t know.

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