Chapter 17 : Cholera

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Cholera is an acute and often fatal disease of the gastrointestinal tract. In its typical epidemic form, it presents with profuse watery diarrhea and often leads to dehydration and eventually the death of an untreated patient within a few hours ( ). The causative agent of cholera is a bacterium known as , two serogroups of which (O1, to which the El Tor biotype belongs, and O139) have epidemic potential and are also responsible for endemic cholera. has two known reservoirs: humans (who can also be asymptomatic carriers) and the aquatic environment (both freshwater, such as that of the Ganges River delta in India, and the sea). Humans mostly are infected through contaminated water used for drinking or preparing foods, and (when symptomatic) they keep shedding bacteria with feces during 1 to 2 weeks ( ). In the aquatic reservoir, can persist indefinitely and undergo genetic modification, which makes the eradication of cholera unlikely to be achieved, if not impossible ( ).

Citation: Lippi D, Gotuzzo E, Caini S. 2016. Cholera, p 173-180. In Drancourt M, Raoult D (ed), Paleomicrobiology of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PoH-0012-2015
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Image of Figure 1
Figure 1

Map by John Snow of the cholera outbreak in Soho, London, 1854, modified by means of geoprofiling methods to show the areas most likely (from red to green) to have contained the source of infection. The pumps are marked with red circles, and the deaths from cholera are marked with blue squares. (Courtesy of Ugo Santosuosso and Alessio Papini, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.)

Citation: Lippi D, Gotuzzo E, Caini S. 2016. Cholera, p 173-180. In Drancourt M, Raoult D (ed), Paleomicrobiology of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PoH-0012-2015
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