Cholera: A Deadly Water-Borne Illness Behind 7 Global Pandemics

Unclean Water

Cholera: A Deadly Water-Borne Illness Behind 7 Global Pandemics

Cholera has been characterized as a life-threatening water-borne illness since its first identification in Florence, Italy around 1854 by Filippo Pacini. Known to take life within hours with almost no symptoms, Cholera has become the leading cause behind 7 global pandemics and is responsible for over 143 000 deaths per year. Its nickname, “blue death” was given as those who passed away of it turns greyish-blue due to lack of fluid in the body.

What are Water-borne Illnesses?

Before anything, it is important for us to comprehend the definition of water-borne illnesses. Water-borne illnesses are disease caused by  a variety of microorganisms, biotoxins, and toxic contaminants spread via untreated or contaminated water. Common examples includes diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid and polio. The diseases vary. Some could be life threatening while others are mild. Transmission of pathogens happens when consuming or coming in contact with contaminated water. In general, this type of illness is caused by the presence of unclean water in residentials.

What is Cholera?

According to World Health Organization, Cholera is an acute gastrointestinal infection caused by the intake of bacterium Vibrio cholerae through food and beverages. The disease spreads rapidly over the world, causing seven pandemics. The reasoning behind this lie in how easy it can be transmitted from one individual to another. When one is infected with Cholera, the bacteria is passed through their stools. Just by consuming products that is contaminated with the stool, the virus is spread. Back in the days, there were no proper drainage and sewerage system. A huge amount of people are as well actively migrating while trading goods and services. Below are the 7 global pandemic caused by Cholera.

7 Global Pandemic of Cholera

1. 1817–1824

The first Cholera pandemic happened in India. It is researched to be caused by the consumption of contaminated rice. It died out after 6 years due to extreme cold weather which might have caused the bacteria to be killed.

2. 1829–1837

The second Cholera outbreak made it to almost the whole region of Europe and America. With the huge need for transport in the past, the disease is spread by large-scale shipping. The pandemic came to an end on its own.

3. 1846–1860

Cholera arises again by this time mainly in Russia with a high mortality rate. It is known to be the worst Cholera pandemic of all time.

4. 1863–1875

The fourth Cholera happens again to where it started like the previous Cholera outbreak. According to an observation, the Indian Muslim pilgrims are the ones suspected for spreading the virus to the Middle Eastern after their spiritual visit to Mecca.

5. 1881–1896

A research data showed that almost 1.5% of the population died due to Cholera by 1892. It consumed over 250,000 lives in Europe and at least 50,000 in the Americas.

6. 1899-1923

This outbreak was fatally hit India, Arabia, and countries along the North African coast. However, it was found that Cholera at this time barely reached America and Europe.

7. 1961–1975

After 38 years of being absent, Cholera emerged in Celebes, Indonesia and spread out to India, Russia and North Africa.

In the following future, scientists do not expect Cholera to be an eradicated disease but they would like to achieve lesser cases of Cholera. With clean water becoming scarce worldwide, it is vital for individuals to take a step further in pushing Cholera away from human civilization. The following are strategies that could be implement to prevent Cholera.

How to Prevent Cholera?

Cholera Prevention Action
Photo by Uriel Mont from Pexels

With Cholera being said as one of the most dangerous diseases, to prevent getting infected, the following are steps that you can and should do:

  1. Boil water before usage
  2. Wash your hand properly and as needed
  3. Get vaccinated (Dukoral®, Shanchol™, and Euvichol-Plus®)
  4. Prepare and cook food well
  5. Implement sanitation measures in the toilet

Other health-related articles to read: Ensuring Health as the Basic Right for All Human Being; SDG 3 and List of 10 Countries with the Best Healthcare in the World.


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