Taking a Look at Cholera

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Cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. An infection from this bacterium, if not treated soon, can cause serious illness or even death within hours of contracting the infection¹. Vibrio cholerae infects the large intestine, causing extreme cases of diarrhea in which an individual has the potential to die within hours of developing symptoms due to dehydration. Symptoms of the disease include rapid heart rate, hypotension, and dry mucous membranes².
The cholera virus infects mainly humans, but rare cases were also found in other mammals, such as dogs and bison. The bacterium that causes cholera is mainly found in places where a main source for drinking water is contaminated with fecal matter³. Cholera is estimated to affect about 3 through 5 million people annually, and it causes 100,000 - 120,000 deaths each year as well. Symptoms for cholera typically begin to show up within 2-3 days but cases have been reported where it took upwards of 5 days for individuals to begin to feel symptoms of the disease². Cholera is reported to have originated in Russia, and then spread through means of travel and trade to other countries, including North America. There have been 6 pandemics reported across the world over the past two centuries, which is a larger number of widespread disease than most other infectious diseases⁶. While there are not many cases reported in the United States, this does not mean that the disease should not be treated with the same

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