cholerae

Twenty-three year old Viennese woman, before and after contracting cholera

One mid-19th century report describes cholera victims who were “one minute warm, palpitating, human organisms - the next a sort of galvanized corpse, with icy breath, stopped pulse and blood congealed - blue, shrivelled up, convulsed”. Cholera causes profuse vomiting and diarrhoea, dehydrating the body so rapidly and severely that the blood thickens and the skin becomes deathlike and blue.

Image from the Wellcome Archives

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
—  Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
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Traditionally, water symbolizes life and renewal, but in Sierra Leone it is also a vehicle for epidemic and death — the focus of photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz’s project “Water Is Gold,” which documents the causes and effects of the country’s recent cholera outbreak.

Last year, Sierra Leone experienced the worst cholera outbreak in its history, Abdulaziz writes for the Pulitzer Center, which funded his trip. There were 20,736 cases of cholera with 280 deaths since the beginning of 2012, he adds.

Abdulaziz spent most of his time in and around Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, which, he writes, was “built to support less than half the current population of 2 million.” The slums are overcrowded, unsanitary and sprawling — the perfect breeding ground for the disease.

Sierra Leone’s Water Of Life – And Death

Photo Credit: Mustafah Abdulaziz

To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
—  Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
—  Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.
—  Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Haitians sue UN over cholera epidemic

Human rights lawyers representing Haitian victims of a cholera epidemic filed suit in New York on Wednesday against the United Nations, accusing it of having introduced the disease to Haiti, where it has killed more than 8,300 people and sickened more than 700,000 since October 2010. 

The decision to file the class action lawsuit followed the U.N. decision earlier this year not to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation claimed by cholera victims in impoverished Haiti.

The plaintiffs are five Haitians and Haitian-Americans whose family members died of the disease or who were infected but survived. They have requested that the court certify the case as a class action, which would allow the plaintiffs to represent hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Haitian-Americans who suffered injuries or died from cholera.

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Photo: AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery

He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
—  Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Scientists unlock evolution of cholera

Working with a nearly 200-year-old sample of preserved intestine, researchers at McMaster University and the University of Sydney have traced the bacterium behind a global cholera pandemic that killed millions – a version of the same bug that continues to strike vulnerable populations in the world’s poorest regions.

The team has mapped the entire genome of the elusive 19th century bacterium. The findings are significant because, until now, researchers had not identified the early strains of cholera, a water-borne pathogen. The discovery significantly improves understanding of the pathogen’s origin and creates hope for better treatment and possible prevention…

For those who could not grasp the importance of such studies: It is likely that, in some parts of the world, cholera still drives human natural selection