Cholera is one of the many diseases that spread because of poor hygiene. Human feces containing cholera germs contaminate food or water (A). The victim ingests them and they incubate in the small intestine (B). They then produce severe, often fatal diarrhoea (C). The patient may survive if their gross dehydration can be corrected with intravenous fluid (D). If such therapy is undertaken promptly (and if no kidney damage has occurred) then full recovery should take place (E).
Cholera is a bacterial disease, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which is characterized by profuse watery diarrhea. It is endemic in many parts of the East and epidemics occur elsewhere. A water-borne infection, cholera was the subject of a classic epidemiological study by John Snow in 1854.
Abdominal pain and diarrhea, which rapidly becomes severe and watery, are main features, with rapidly developing dehydration and shock. The severe dehydration reduces the blood volume sharply, leading to deep shock and unconsciousness. Without rapid and adequate fluid replacement, death ensues quickly; antibiotics may shorten the diarrhea phase. Cholera is a disease due to a specific toxin; a similar but milder disease occurs due to the El Tor Vibrio.
Vaccination gives limited protection for six months.