Vibrio cholerae is a kind of bacteria. Although not known a great deal about until the 1880s, Robert Koch became the first scientist to publish work on this topic. In addition to researching the bacteria, he also determined several methods of treating the disease, cholera, that it caused. His work did a great deal for the scientific and medical communities. Even today, his research on the organism is still used.
Vibrio cholerae is a type of bacteria. It is gram-negative and rod shaped, usually slightly curved, with a flagellum to provide movement. It is a facultatively anaerobe which means that it can live with and without oxygen. While not all strains of this organism are pathogenic, some can cause the disease cholera.
Cholera is not common in the United States today and is mostly prevalent in Africa and Asia, where it is particularly deadly. Those without access to medical care are at highest risk of dying from the disease. The disease is a zoonosis, meaning that it remains in an animal source. Usually shellfish and other aquatic sources carry the disease, although humans can spread it as well. The disease is usually acquired from drinking contaminated water either by the shellfish or by fecal matter from an individual with the disease. In places where the water does not move, such as a small lake, the organism can stay and infect multiple people at different times.
When contracting cholera, the disease usually manifests itself in diarrhea. Replacing fluids is the best treatment. In some severe cases, the fluid loss may be extreme, with the patient losing almost one liter of fluid an hour. This loss can cause the patient to go into shock and die in a few hours.
While cholera is a dangerous disease, not all strains of Vibrio cholerae will cause cholera. By making sure to drink clean water, an individual can prevent contracting the organism which causes the disease. In third world countries, boiling the drinking water is a great preventative measure that will go a long ways to fight cholera. It is much easier to prevent the disease than to treat it so individuals should take precautions with everyday drinking and cooking habits. This is especially true in countries where seeking medical help may not be an option.