Cholera Endemic in Ethiopia

Water pollution is one of the most prevalent issues in our world today. Contaminated water sources are a problem worldwide, and the issue continues to prevail. Underdeveloped countries suffer the most from water pollution due to the lack of proper water treatment. Without proper water treatment and inadequate sanitation practices, communities are left vulnerable to a variety of diseases and infections. In my previous blogs, I have brought attention to diseases such as Typhoid fever, Giardiasis, and more, all of which are caused by the lack of access to clean water. For the last blog in my series, I want to highlight a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae and leads to an acute diarrheal illness.

Each year, Cholera infects over one million people worldwide and is the cause of hundreds of thousands of deaths. Cholera infections mainly affect people living in marginalized communities where sanitation practices are severely underdeveloped. The infection is easily spread throughout these communities, which makes disease control and prevention nearly impossible.

What is Cholera?

Cholera is a bacterial infection that leads to intestinal discomfort and diarrhea. It is mainly associated with ingesting contaminated water from water sources that are used for sanitation. The bacteria that causes Cholera is known as Vibrio cholerae, and its method of infection begins with invading the tissues of the intestines, leading to intestinal discomfort. The bacteria does not enter the tissues of the small intestines but instead, colonizes on the surface and secretes a toxin. This toxin alters the functions of the cells and causes them to lose significant amounts of water, creating the diarrheal infection. This infection leads to significant water loss for the individual infected, leading to a variety of other symptoms.

Where is Cholera most prevalent?

Infections caused by cholera are present worldwide but have a significantly higher infection rate in marginalized communities in undeveloped countries. Cholera infections have been reduced in modernized countries due to advanced sanitation practices, but odd cases can still happen. However, undeveloped countries are still devastated by these infections. Many countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Nigeria are considered to have endemic level cases of Cholera each year. around the world, almost 3 million cases of cholera are reported and almost 100,000 deaths are estimated to occur in endemic countries. These deaths occur due to the lack of access to treatment for a cholera infection. Diarrheal incidences are considered to be the most common cause of death in undeveloped countries. These deaths are most common in children under the age of five.


What are the signs and symptoms of Cholera?

Cholera is considered to be an extremely virulent disease that can physically ail an individual with its symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with a cholera infection include severe diarrhea, vomiting, excessive thirst due to dehydration, restlessness, and in more severe cases significant electrolyte imbalance.  The infection can last anywhere from seven to fourteen days, but symptoms can remain for months. In cases with extended infection, extreme symptoms such as hypoglycemia, organ failure, and death are also possible. These extreme symptoms are mainly seen in cases where treatment was not available and prolonged infection occurred. The most common prolonged symptom of a cholera infection is dehydration. Severe diarrhea leads to significant water loss and without access to large amounts of clean water, the body can easily be dehydrated. Long periods of dehydration can alter electrolyte balance which can lead to changed functions of important organs including the kidneys. These extended symptoms lead to increased susceptibility to other infections. Increased susceptibility is extremely dangerous in underdeveloped countries, as the chance of contracting a bacterial infection is significantly higher than here in the U.S.

I am Jesseca Hemminger, visit my blog next week for the final post of this series.