So this page is dedicated to going over the major diseases in history in brief explanations to give a basic understanding of the disease and as I move through history on my blogs, I will update these to give further information on these diseases!
Transmission: Sewage or waste water coming into contact with drinking water or fecal-oral transmission
Pathogenic organism: Vibrio cholera
While the earliest outbreaks of cholera are highly debated, the most notable outbreaks are those of 19th century. The first cholera pandemic hit the Eastern Hemisphere from 1817 to 1823, and then again sweeping through India and travelling all the way to England and then travelling to the Americas by the end of 1831.
Cholera is an important contributing factor to the history of infectious disease because this is the disease that prompted the research of Dr. John Snow that began the study of epidemiology and public health. In 1854, a large outbreak of cholera in the Soho district of London was caused by a large amount on people moving in and a lack of sewage systems. The government decided to run the wastes from this area into the Thames river to solve the problem of overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions. This waste dump contaminated the water supply, leading to one of the largest cholera outbreaks in England’s history. Within the first week, over a 125 people had died, by the end of the outbreak, over 600 had perished. Dr. Snow, a physician treating the outbreak, decided to try to research a way to prevent the spread of cholera deaths in London. At this point in time, cholera was believed to be caused by “breathing bad air”, however, Dr. Snow did not believe this theory and began investigating alternatives. To begin his research he began mapping the number of patients and where they lived in order to get a sense of what factors might affect the transmission of this disease. What he ended up finding was that a majority of the cases lived around a single water pump on Broad Street. After taking test samples and statistically mapping the outbreaks, Dr. Snow managed to convince public authorities to remove the water pump that worked the well. This action led to the decline of the outbreak and founded the beginning of Epidemiology!
Symptoms and Biological pathways:
Vibro cholera enters the body through the mouth and travels down the gastrointestinal tract to lodge itself within the intestinal walls. It replicates rapidly within the next 2-3 days and begins to release a chemical toxin that affects the membranes of your intestinal cells. This change in permeability causes a rapid loss of water and nutrient uptake causing excessive diarrhea and vomiting. Other symptoms include a shrunken appearance, muscle cramps, and increased thirst. Massive dehydration occurs which leads to rapid drops in blood pressure, cardiac arrest and possibly death.
In general, industrialized or “Developed” nations in the world have very few causes of infectious diseases that rely on sanitation conditions for transmission. However, there are approximately 3-5 million cases a year in the world, mostly seen in Africa and Southeast Asia. The CDC cautions U.S. citizens from drinking non-bottled water when travelling to these areas and to immediately seek medical attention if showing any signs and symptoms.
* The information and pictures from this posted is references from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Cholera Page on http://www.cdc.gov/cholera/index.html -Please visit this site for more information!