Space & Innovation

What Exactly Does Cholera Do To Your Body?

Cholera is an aggressive bacterial infection that can kill its victims within hours, but how? What exactly does cholera do to our bodies?

After the 2010 Haitian earthquake, the ravaged island nation experienced another catastrophe - an outbreak of cholera left about 790,000 people sick and over 9,000 dead. The tragedy was compounded by recent revelations that the epidemic was most likely caused by United Nations relief workers. But what is cholera, exactly? As Sapna Parikh reports in today's DNews dispatch, it's one of the world's most damaging and deadly diseases.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that can cause extreme diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramping - and it can kill within hours. Those devastating symptoms trigger extreme and sudden dehydration, potentially putting the body into hypovolemic shock. If the body can't retain fluids, the heart can't get blood to the organs. Each year cholera affects up to four million people and causes 21,000 to 143,000 deaths worldwide Read More:

NY Times: U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

Harvard: Cholera Epidemics in the 19th Century

Independent: Vibrio cholerae: How it spreads, kills, and can be eradicated

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