According to the World Health Organization, “Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.” Cholera is caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera. Cholera became wide spread in the 19th century. Cholera is said to have spread from its original reservoir in the Ganges delta in India. The disease have kill millions of people world-wide during six different pandemic. The disease can now be found in many country.

Cholera is closely associated with poor sanitation and unclean drinking water or overall poor environmental management. It’s important to note that cholera has a short incubation period of a few hour to five days. Cholera outbreaks can affect small geographical areas (such as a community) to large geographical areas (such as continents).

Area at risk of experiencing cholera outbreaks include; slums, camps for displaced people or refugees and areas that experience frequent natural disasters such as hurricanes. Slums and camps usually have inadequate sanitation facilities and water systems; putting those areas at risk of experiencing cholera outbreak due to the use of untreated water, improper waste disposal, consumption of poorly prepared food, etc. Also areas that experience frequent natural disasters usually have problem in effectively maintaining their infrastructure. Natural disasters can damage water system and sewage system; creating an environment that can result in cholera outbreak due to leaking sewage pipes and foreign substances entering the water system (such as sewage).

According to the WHO the number of cholera cases reported to WHO continues to rise. For 2011 alone, a total of 589 854 cases were notified from 58 countries, including 7816 deaths. Many more cases were unaccounted for due to limitations in surveillance systems and fear of trade and travel sanctions. The true burden of the disease is estimated to be 3–5 million cases and 100 000–120 000 deaths annually.

Important Video on Cholera

The Story of Cholera


  • Watery diarrhoea that can last one to few days
  • Fast heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Thirst

Please note that there are other symptoms for Cholera.


The WHO recommend a multidisciplinary approach based on prevention, preparedness and response, along with an efficient surveillance system, is key for mitigating cholera outbreaks, controlling cholera in endemic areas and reducing deaths.


Cholera can be treated with quick administration of oral rehydration salts. Surprisingly it’s an easily treatable disease. Some individuals may require intravenous fluids, if they are severely dehydrated. And also antibiotic maybe given to help with combating the diarrhoea. Wide scale use of antibiotic is not recommended because it may contributes to increasing antimicrobial resistance and it does not help in preventing the spread of the disease.

Additional Reading

Global epidemics and impact of cholera


Cholera. (2014, February). Retrieved March 17, 2014.


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