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Definition of «Cholera»


Cholera: A devastating and sometimes lethal disease with intense vomiting and profuse watery diarrhea leading to dehydration which, unless immediately treated, may be fatal.

Cholera was discovered in 1883 to be due to infection with Vibrio cholerae, a comma-shaped bacteria. The discovery was made by the great German bacteriologist Robert Koch (1843-1910). As head of a commission investigating the disease, Koch went to Egypt where an epidemic was taking place and there he found some sort of bacterium in the intestines of those dead of cholera but could neither isolate the organism nor infect animals with it.

Later in 1883 Koch went to India, where he wrote that he succeeded in isolating "a little bent [bacilli], like a comma." He discovered that the bacteria thrived in damp dirty linen and moist earth and in the stools of patients with the disease.

The key to treating cholera is prompt and complete replacement of the fluid and salt lost through the profuse diarrhea. Patients are rehydrated with an oral solution which is a prepackaged mixture of sugar and salts that is then mixed with water and drunk in large amounts. With prompt and complete oral rehydration, fewer than 1% of cholera patients now die.

Very severe cases of cholera, especially those in which oral rehydration was not started in time, may also require intravenous fluid replacement. Antibiotics do shorten the course and diminish the severity of the illness, but they are not as important as rehydration.

Thanks to modern sanitary practices, cholera is no longer as common as it once was, but it remains a global health threat. Epidemics will occur whenever people live in unsanitary crowded conditions, as in refuge camps. At the turn of the new millennium, epidemics of cholera were reported in Madagascar, Somalia, and Mecca. After a group of French Moslems returned from the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, they came down with cholera. French health authorities found traces of cholera in 2,700 liters (700 gallons) of water they had brought back to France in barrels. The water was for distribution to members of the Moslem community who were unable to go to Mecca for the annual pilgrimage.

The genes of cholera: The entire genetic information of an organism is scientifically referred to as its genome. The genome of Vibrio cholera was fully sequenced in the year 2000. It has over 4 million bases in its DNA with sequences for nearly 4,000 genes. The genome is remarkable in that it is arranged in two circular chromosomes. The larger of the two chromosomes has the usual "housekeeping" genes possessed by many organisms, while the smaller chromosome contains the genetic elements that make the bacteria pathogenic (capable of causing disease).

Like other Vibrio, Vibrio cholerae moves about actively. The word "vibrio" in Latin means "to quiver." Cholera is sometimes called Asian cholera although Asia has no monopoly on Vibrio cholerae.

For More Information «Cholera»

  • cholera: Definition from Answers.com

    Library > Literature & Language > Dictionary ( kŏl ' ər-ə ) n. An acute infectious disease of the small intestine, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae and ...

  • Cholera - PubMed Health - National Center for Biotechnology ...

    Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea.

  • Cholera Vaccine, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment, Outbreak History ...

    Vaccines are not very effective against cholera, an infectious disease that can cause severe diarrhea, dehydration, and death. Read about symptoms, signs, treatment ...

  • WHO | Cholera

    Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, from less ...

  • WHO | Cholera

    Key facts. Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. There are an estimated 3–5 million cholera cases and 100 000–120 000 ...

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