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Cholera


Overview :

Cholera is spread by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with cholera bacteria. Contamination usually occurs when human feces from a person who has the disease seeps into a community water supply. Fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated in areas where crops are fertilized with human feces. Cholera bacteria also live in warm, brackish water and can infect persons who eat raw or undercooked seafood obtained from such waters. Cholera is rarely transmitted directly from one person to another.

Cholera often occurs in outbreaks or epidemics; seven pandemics (countrywide or worldwide epidemics) of cholera have been recorded between 1817 and 2003. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that during any cholera epidemic, approximately 0.2-1% of the local population will contract the disease. Anyone can get cholera, but infants, children, and the elderly are more likely to die from the disease because they become dehydrated faster than adults. There is no particular season in which cholera is more likely to occur.

Because of an extensive system of sewage and water treatment in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, and Australia, cholera is generally not a concern for visitors and residents of these countries. Between 1995 and 2000, 61 cases of cholera in American citizens were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); only 24 represented infections acquired in the United States. People visiting or living in other parts of the world, particularly on the Indian subcontinent and in parts of Africa and South America, should be aware of the potential for contracting cholera and practice prevention. Fortunately, the disease is both preventable and treatable.




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