What is cholera?
Have you ever thought about what is in the water that we drink? Sometimes we forget how our water could be contaminated. Scientists used to think that if you couldn’t see it, it wasn’t there. But that’s not true at all. In reality bacteria or tiny microorganisms rule our world. Cholera definition: One type of bacteria known as Vibrio cholerae for its comma like shape causes the disease that we call cholera.
What causes cholera?
So, the big question is how do they infect us. Cholera spreads through populations via the fecal-oral route. It is often referred to as a waterborne disease, because it is frequently spread through contaminated water. However, there are many other modes of transmission. What causes cholera? Feces of the contaminated person which carry the cholera bacteria. Spread by getting into the water supply, spreading to the soil, being picked up by flies or even touched by fingers. Each of these things are capable of infecting our food source so that when we eat, we are also ingesting the cholera bacteria that initially came from the feces of the contaminated person.
Because cholera bacteria can be spread in so many different ways the disease affects people all over the world. In fact, according to the World Health Organization there are three to five million cases of cholera each year and approximately a hundred thousand to a hundred and twenty thousand result in death throughout history. There have been many cholera epidemics all over the world in places like England India and Haiti.
How does cholera work?
In order to understand this, we must first learn a little bit more about digestion. Our stomach contains a fluid known as chyme that breaks down our food with its highly acidic properties. Our body protects of the stomach by coating it with a mucus like layer once the partially digested food reaches the intestines. However, there is no mucous lining because the intestines are the site of absorption. If there was a lining in the intestines then the nutrients from our food couldn’t be brought into the bloodstream. Therefore, the pH must be raised in order to protect the intestinal walls. Bicarbonate is released to raise the pH and make the solution less acidic and less harmful to our intestines this is where cholera strikes. Cholera bacteria turn the bicarbonate switch on this allows rapid growth of all kinds of harmful bacteria including cholera that attack the intestinal tract
The symptoms of cholera are a direct result of this attack on our bodies. Cholera causes intense diarrhea and vomiting which often result in weakness and dizziness. it is a particularly dangerous disease for the elderly and the malnourished. The rapid dehydration that cholera induces can kill its victims in hours if it is left untreated.
How can we stop cholera? Let’s go back to those modes of transmission that we talked about earlier what if we could cut off each of cholera’s paths from fecal matter to the mouth. We can, a well-managed hygienic latrine can stop cholera from contaminating water soil and flies. While a traditional latrine can stop cholera from contaminating water and soil water. Purification systems can prevent cholera from moving to the mouth through drinking water. Covering food can prevent the spread of cholera from flies to food. Simple hand-washing routines can prevent the spread of cholera from fingers to food and from fingers to mouths. Cholera is a manageable disease in the worst cases it is virulent and spreads quickly but through these methods of prevention and a greater focus on the importance of water and sanitation it can be contained and eradicated throughout the world.