'A Court for King Cholera', 1852.
Picture: ‘A Court for King Cholera’, 1852.

From time to time epidemic of various diseases spread all over the globe. Some of these epidemic diseases are completely eliminated from the world but some diseases arise from time to time. Bubonic plague and cholera are included in the few diseases which are not completely eliminated from the world. From these two diseases, although bubonic plagues dangerously spread like an epidemic since past times, cholera spread like a serious epidemic in the early 19th century. Cholera, which started in India at that time, later spread to other countries very severely.

How cholera occurs

Cholera is a disease infected by the vibrio cholera bacterium. This bacterium which normally lives in water mostly lives in Slightly warm salty water in coastal areas. These diseases can be infected by either drinking dirty water containing bacteria or eating marine life that lives in salty water Without proper preparation. Even if cholera bacterium has lots of species only 01 and 0139 Varieties grow like an epidemic. These genres produce cholera toxins, because of this toxin’s action cells in the gut release more water. Because of that Diarrhea as well as rapid excretion of fluids and salts from the body.

A microscopic photograph of cholera bacteria
A microscopic photograph of cholera bacteria

Symptoms

80% of people who infected with cholera do not have symptoms and it can Suppress their body. But other 20% of infected bacterium has symptoms like severe diarrhoea, Vomiting. At that point, if a patient did not get the proper treatment he can dehydrate and die.

Cholera patient. Patient in typical cholera attitude. From French medical book published c1890.
Cholera patient. Patient in typical cholera attitude. From French medical book
published c1890.

The beginning of the cholera epidemic

The cholera epidemic started in Jessore, India, in 1817. There is a belief this epidemic started by drinking dirty water in Ganges valley. After that these diseases spread across India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar because of the British who were in India. The reasons to spread these diseases was trading via trade routes established by Europeans.

The epidemic is spreading rapidly throughout Asia

The Epidemic spread to Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines by the year 1820. In that, about 100,000 people died only on the Island of Jawa. After that this diseases spread as a severe pandemic to China and Japan by ship within two years. During that the British ships that sailed India to Oman, brought this epidemic to the Persian Gulf, by making it a risk to spread this diseases out of Asia.

The first cholera epidemic ended

Even though the cholera epidemic was thought to spread out of Asia, after winter came in 1823 spreading cholera seems to be slow. Cholera which was controlled like that ended in 1824. After that lot of people thought a cholera epidemic will never spread again but I wasn’t.

Europa and America struck by a second cholera epidemic

The cholera epidemic starts again in Moscow city in Russia in 1830. But after that winter came and diseases spread slowly. Cholera spread rapidly and spread to Finland and Poland after came spring in 1831. After that, this rapidly spreading epidemic spread to many countries in Europe in 1832.

Cholera which was spreading in across Europe spread to America by Merchant ships that went to America from Europe. The epidemic spread to America did a big effect on Latin American countries like spread to Canada, Mexico, Kuba.

A victim of the cholera epidemic in Paris, 1832. Around 20,000 people died in the city during the outbreak, which began in the Ganges delta and swept across Europe.
A victim of the cholera epidemic in Paris, 1832. Around 20,000 people died in the city during the outbreak, which began in the Ganges delta and swept across Europe.

The cholera epidemic has persecuted the world for centuries

During 1852-1923 cholera epidemic spread four times in different regions After ending the second cholera epidemic. Therefore cholera spread like an epidemic, during 1852-1859 for the third time, during 1863-1875 for the fourth time, during 1881-1896 for the fifth time, during 1899-1923 for the sixth time. It is guessed that over 38 million people died from the cholera epidemics which spread across the world for 106 years.

People waiting to be fed by soldiers running a quarantine camp on the Franco-Italian border for victims of the 1884 cholera epidemic.
People waiting to be fed by soldiers running a quarantine camp on the Franco-Italian border for victims of the 1884 cholera epidemic.

The treatments did to cholera

When cholera diseases spread across Europe in 1832, the cholera patient was given Saline as a treatment. Famous Microbiologists Filippo Pasini and Robert Koch who lived in the 19th century did research to prevent cholera. But they were not able to find a way to prevent these diseases completely from the world.

The way Robert koch did researches
The way Robert Koch did researches

Cholera has not yet been completely disappeared from the world

Even though After 1917 cholera epidemic seemed to decrease it spread for the seventh time in 1961. That time cholera started in Indonesia and spread to Africa through the middle east. A group of developing countries in the Africa continent are struck by cholera which was controlled well laterally, in present. Also poor countries in other continent suffering from cholera that is not yet disappeared. But we can hope that a way to prevent cholera will be introduced in future.

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