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  • Cholera: If it's preventable, why are people dying from it?

    "Cholera is a waterborne disease resulting from inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Despite efforts to keep its spread under control, cholera remains a serious disease in many parts of the world." Center for Disease Control.

    Dr. Eric Mintz says:

    "Inexcusably, the completely preventable ancient scourge of cholera rages among poverty-stricken and displaced people today, with as many as one in five persons with severe illness dying for lack of safe drinking water and sanitation and a simple therapy consisting of salt, sugar, and water. Cholera, a dreaded waterborne disease of centuries past, remains a troubling barometer — and often a fatal consequence — of inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation." Lion in Our Village - The Unconscionable Tragedy of Cholera in Africa

    That's right, over a century and a half ago, a physician in London discovered water transmitted cholera. In the late 1800's a Bristish civil engineer figured out a way to engineer the water system to prevent cholera. So why are we still living with the disease? It's very inexpensive to prevent. A small donation to the Blue Planet Run Foundation or Water for People will help alleviate the suffering you see in the photo. That image (credit to Medindia.com) shows two very ill children from a cholera outbreak in India.

  • War + Unclean Water = Cholera

    Cholera is a well understood disease that can be prevented and treated. But the combination of war and lack of access to clean water stack the odds against anyone who gets sick from it. Watch this video to get a first-hand look at the problem people face in Afghanistan.

  • A Recently Developed Cholera Vaccine

    Dukoral is a newly developed vaccine for cholera. Will those who need it be able to get the vaccine? Cost and logistics pose obstacles. The vaccine won't address the underlying cause of the lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation.

    Cholera is a disease you get from contaminated water and food. Although it is practically gone in the USA, it is prevalent in developing countries. It's treatable, but people can't get the treatment for many reasons.

  • Cholera: The Quick Change Artist

    One way for criminals to evade capture is to change clothes and take on a new identity. Scientists recently discovered that the cholera bug is doing just that. it's constantly exchanging and mixing genes to avoid "capture." The bacteria Vibrio cholerae. Looks pretty, but it can be deadly.

    Find out more about cholera's quick change tactics: Cholera's survival tactics revealed.

    Find out more about this deadly waterborne disease:
    Cholera: If it’s preventable, why are people dying from it?

    Kirstyn E's Weblog has a wonderful article on the pathology and treatment of this killer.
    If You’ve Never Heard of Cholera, Be Thankful that you have Clean Water

  • Cholera outbreaks depend on river flow, say scientists

    This article is frome SciDev Net:

    "The severity of cholera outbreaks can be linked to the rate at which rivers flow, scientists have found.

    Cholera, caused by the aquatic bug Vibrio cholerae, spreads through contaminated food and water.

    It has re-emerged as a major killer in recent decades, with the number of cases up ten per cent between 2007 and 2008, at 200,000, and the number of deaths up by more than a quarter at 5,000.

    The team, from Tufts University, United States, analysed Bangladesh's two seasonal cholera outbreaks — one around March and a second in September–October — using cholera data from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (ICDDR,B) between 1980 and 2000, and water records from the country's hydrology department.

    They found a link between the severity of the two outbreaks and the volume of water flowing in the deltas of Bangladesh's three major rivers: the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.

    The March outbreak coincides with low water levels in the rivers. The lower the water level, the more seawater seeps in from the Bay of Bengal, carrying the microscopic plants and animals that harbour Vibrio cholerae, spreading infection, they suggest.

    Severe October outbreaks are linked to high flood years, when faecal contamination in the rivers enters drinking-water sources.

    The team says its findings can be used to develop an early warning system for cholera.

    Shafiqul Islam, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the university and lead author, says it is unlikely that cholera will ever be eradicated because the germs thrive in sea water — where they cannot be controlled — and newer types continually emerge.

    "We need a cholera warning system to control outbreaks and minimise their impact by prior planning and implementing effective interventions," he told SciDev.Net.

    Environmental indicators provide advanced warning and can be applied to any region, he says.

    Recent research by the ICDDR,B has also linked cholera outbreaks in Bangladesh to hours of sunshine and temperature in spring and autumn.

    Increases in sea surface temperature and river height also influence outbreaks in Vietnam, says Mohammad Yunus, senior scientist at the ICDDR,B's public health sciences division.

    Yunus points out such insights will be meaningful only if scientists monitoring environmental indicators inform public health scientists dealing with outbreaks on the ground.

    Some cholera outbreaks have more to do with public health infrastructure breakdown, he adds — as in Zimbabwe, where the ICDDR,B scientists are helping build local capacity in clinical examination and detection.

    Even in coastal countries such as Nigeria, where outbreaks can be linked with climate and water variables, collecting environmental data well in advance will be a challenge, he says.

    The research was published last month (October) in Geophysical Research Letters."