Life Science Research Project May 2011

Project by Barrie Lake

cholera is usually transmitted through water. Some other symptoms of cholera include nausea and vomiting. irregular heartbeat and a rapid pulse rate. The bacteria can. live naturally in any environment. In children. tiredness. This causes the main symptom of cholera:very severe.Causes Cholera is a disease that is caused by a type of bacteria known as Vibrio cholerae. and could even cause a coma. children are more susceptible to the disease. confusion. while in developed countries. Cholera almost never spreads directly from one person to another. Typically. convulsions. Once the bacteria have been ingested. the disease ismore likely to be contracted by eating sea food. watery diarrhoea. little or no urine output. sunken eyes.irritability. . muscle cramps. as well as those with blood type O. so it is safe to come into contact with an infected person. theytravel to the small intestine where they begin to multiply. Vibreo Cholera under an electron microscope Symptoms The cholera bacteria in the small intestine produce a toxin which affects the absorption of water in the small intestine. It is interesting to know that in developing countries. however. The diarrhoea is very dangerous because the body loses a lot of fluids o a very ver short period of time. dry mouth. extreme thirst. due to poor sanitation. low blood pressure. about 100 million bacteria must be ingested to cause cholera in a healthy human adult. symptoms could include severe drowsiness. which can cause severe dehydration and death. fever. shrivelled skin. Vibrio cholerae is often found in water which is contaminated by faecal matter. Cholera is usually transmitted by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated withVibrio cholerae. However.

A man suffering from cholera. Note the sunken eyes and wrinkled fingers Areas of Risk in South Africa The map below and the table on the following page show areas which were affected by cholera in an outbreak which occurred around 2001 .

Thus the provinces closer to Zimbabwe were more affected. More rainfall = more water = more places for the cholera bacteria to live. A more recent article written in 2009 stated that Limpopo (N.) As you can see from the above table. The Northern Cape. It is the percentage of cholera cases which resulted in death.(CFR stands for Case Fatality Rate. however. followed by Gauteng. 2001. Another reason for the immense outbreak of cholera in KZN is the climate. Province on the table) had the highest case rate. This is probably due to the fact that the cholera disease originated in India and moved its way down Africa. in 2001 KwaZulu -Natal was a very high-risk area for cholera. The above table and map are quite old. It is likely that South Africa got cholera from Zimbabwe. Both the map and table show that the Northerly provinces had more cases of cholera than the ones closer to the south. KZN is a very humid province with lots of rainfall. a very dry provin had no cases of cholera in ce. areas of high risk are areas where there is a lot of water coupled with improper sanitation. as they had an outbreak of the disease shortly before we did. . In general.

Hot coffee and tea. Avoid ice cubes in drinks. Be careful eating food from street stalls. Avoid raw fruit and vegetables. but is not always 100% effective. Avoid raw fish and shellfish. A poster printed in 1832 which illustrates how little people knew about cholera at that time . Make sure it doesn't contain anything that hasn't been properly prepared A vaccine is also available against cholera. there are a few precautions you can take to avoid contracting the disease: y y y y y y Only drink boiled water or water that has been sterilised or treated in another way. unless you peel it yourself. Boil unpasteurised milk before you drink it.Prevention If you are in a high-risk area. Ice cream from doubtful sources may also be contaminated. fizzy water and other uncontaminated bottled drinks are usually safe enough to drink. especially during a cholera outbreak.

Treatment The main way in which cholera is treated is by replacing the fluids that the body has lost until the diarrhoea has subsided. Large volumes of fluid are given to the patient orally or intravenously in severe cases. As we develop and improve our water treatment plants. but salts. nce If people with cholera are treated quickly and properly. Not only water is lost by the body. The likelihood of death will increase to about 60% if the cholera is untreated. so thesolution given to the patient consists of not only water. their chances of dying will be less than 1%. . But things are slowly improving. future generations will live in a cholera-free society. sugar and potassium as well. Perhaps one day. Antibiotics can be used to shorten the course of the disease and lessen the severity of the symptoms. Cholera patients being treated Conclusion Cholera is a fairly big issue in South Africa. Advances in the medical field could also see this number decrease. we will see a decrease in the number of cholera cases. so our infrastructure is not as good as that of developed countries. and build better infrastucture in r rural areas. in many areas of the world. However. We are a developing country. antibiotic resista is increasing.

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