Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative, comma-shaped bacterium. The bacterium's natural habitat is brackish or saltwater and attach themselves easily to the chitin-containing shells of crabs, shrimps, and other shellfish. Some strains of V. cholerae cause the disease cholera, which can be derived from the consumption of undercooked or raw marine life species. V. cholerae is a facultative anaerobe and has a flagellum at one cell pole as well as pili. V. cholerae can undergo respiratory and fermentative metabolism. When ingested, V. cholerae can cause diarrhea and vomiting in a host within several hours to 2–3 days of ingestion. V. cholerae was first isolated as the cause of cholera by Italian anatomist Filippo Pacini in 1854, but his discovery was not widely known until Robert Koch, working independently 30 years later, publicized the knowledge and the means of fighting the disease.
V. cholerae pathogenicity genes code for proteins directly or indirectly involved in the virulence of the bacteria. During infection, V. cholerae secretes cholera toxin, a protein that causes profuse, watery diarrhea (known as "rice-water stool"). This cholera toxin contains 5 B subunits that plays a role in attaching to the intestinal epithelial cells and 1 A subunit that plays a role in toxin activity. Colonization of the small intestine also requires the toxin coregulated pilus (TCP), a thin, flexible, filamentous appendage on the surface of bacterial cells. Death due to dehydration can occur in a few hours to days in untreated children. The disease is also particularly dangerous for pregnant women and their fetuses during late pregnancy, as it may cause premature labor and fetal death. In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Haiti. They found that women who were pregnant and contracted the disease, 16% of 900 women had fetal death. Risk factors for these deaths include: third trimester, younger maternal age, severe dehydration, and vomiting Dehydration poses the biggest health risk to pregnant women in countries that there are high rates of cholera.
Cholera is an illness that derives from the bacteria, V. cholerae. This bacteria infects the intestine where it then causes diarrhea. This bacteria, V. cholerae can be spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. This illness is also spread through humans making skin contact with contaminated water from human feces. When it comes to symptoms, not everyone with Cholera will experience symptoms but it averages about 1 in 10 people with Cholera will experience symptoms. Some symptoms include: watery diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, loss of skin elasticity, low blood pressure, thirst, and muscle cramps.
When visiting areas with epidemic cholera, the following precautions should be observed: drink and use bottled water; frequently wash hands with soap and safe water; use chemical toilets or bury feces if no restroom is available; do not defecate in any body of water and cook food thoroughly. Supplying proper, safe water is important. A precaution to take is to properly sanitize. Hand hygiene is an essential in areas where soap and water is not available. When there is no sanitation available for hand washing, scrub hands with ash or sand and rinse with clean water.
The basic, overall treatment for Cholera is to re-hydrate, you want to replace the fluids that have been lost. You should be monitoring your fluid intake so that you know how much fluids you are needing to replace. If you are being seen by the doctor and you dehydration is only mild you can be treated orally with an oral re-hydration solution also known as, (ORS). If a patient is severely dehydrated and is not able to take in the proper amount of ORS, they will be treated will IV fluids. Antibiotics are also an option of treatment. The antibiotics that are going to be used are fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines.
People potentially infected with the plague need immediate treatment and should be given antibiotics within 24 hours of the first symptoms to prevent death. Other treatments include oxygen, intravenous fluids, and respiratory support. People who have had contact with anyone infected by pneumonic plague are given prophylactic antibiotics.
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