Government officials in Zimbabwe have (finally) declared a state of emergency in the cholera epidemic that has already sickened more than 12,000 people and killed more than 550. Caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, cholera's hallmarks are massive watery diarrhea and vomiting, and people who die from cholera generally die from dehydration. It's a terrible cycle: people get cholera from a contaminated water supply (or food that's been tainted through contaminated water. They don't have clean water to drink, so have no means of safe rehydration, and they don't have safe sewage systems, so waste infected with the cholera bacteria goes right back into the water where it can infect others.

Cholera is rare in the developed world today, but it wasn't always. For a fascinating real-life epidemiological detective story about the deadliest cholera outbreak in London's history (in August, 1854), check out Steven Johnson's "The Ghost Map." Even if you're not into non-fiction, it's a great read. I couldn't put it down.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Today the World Health Organization estimated that 60,000 people in Zimbabwe are at risk for cholera.

posted on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 2:54pm
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

It is really sad that people are still dying from cholera - a now preventable and treatable disease. Learn about the history of Cholera using the interactive timeline on the Disease Detectives website.

posted on Fri, 12/12/2008 - 5:10pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The UN is reporting that 978 people have now died of cholera in Zimbabwe, and 18,413 suspected cases have been reported.

posted on Mon, 12/15/2008 - 2:54pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe continues to spread...

posted on Thu, 12/18/2008 - 3:22pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:


posted on Sun, 12/21/2008 - 3:53pm
Reno's picture
Reno says:

These are some sarcastic articles O.o
I luvs it ^^

posted on Wed, 12/31/2008 - 11:21am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The World Health Organization says that more than 2,000 people in Zimbabwe have died of cholera, and another 40,000 or so have gotten sick. It's Africa's worst cholera outbreak in nearly a decade.

In 2007, Japanese researchers were developing a strain of rice that, when ground into a powder, acted as a vaccine against cholera. A low-cost, simple approach like that could work well under outbreak conditions, but the best way to prevent cholera is to ensure clean drinking water for everyone.

posted on Tue, 01/13/2009 - 12:26pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

The Zimbabwe cholera epidemic is still growing, with some 60,000 people infected and more than 3,100 deaths since August, 2008.

posted on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 5:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The Johnson book is also available in paperback for less than halff the one in the link.

posted on Fri, 01/30/2009 - 5:39pm

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