Cholera in Haiti

Topics: Cholera, Vibrio cholerae, Pandemic Pages: 9 (2945 words) Published: March 16, 2014


Cholera in Haiti

This paper will discuss the various different aspects of Cholera in Haiti and will outline the history of such a disease in terms of its epidemiology, natural reservoirs and vectors associated with it. The paper will describe how cholera is manifested, and what actions are recommended to manage, treat and help prevent the disease, and the important role nurses’ play in this process. History and Characteristics of the Vibrio Cholerae Micro-organism Over the centuries, populations all over the world have been affected by devastating outbreaks of cholera (World Health Organization [WHO], 2013). Some records go as far back as Hippocrates and Galen times, and describe an illness resembling cholera (WHO, 2013). Similarly, numerous suggestions indicate that in ancient times, a cholera-like disease was also known in the plains of the Ganges River, in India (WHO, 2013). It was only at the start of the 19th century that researchers began to make progress towards a better understanding of the causes of the cholera disease and its appropriate treatment (WHO, 2013). This research has helped to better understand the cholera disease in modern day medical treatment and prevention of such a disease (WHO, 2013). The first recorded global pandemic started near Calcutta, India in 1817 and spread to other parts of the world (WHO, 2013). Other pandemics have also occurred throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and even in Latin America during the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries (WHO, 2013). In 2010, one such country that was hit by a massive cholera outbreak of epidemic proportions is Haiti. Despite many of Haiti’s neighbouring islands experiencing a history of Cholera, there has been no recorded evidence based medical reports affirming that Cholera occurred in Haiti in the last 100 years (Chin et al., 2011). Cholera is a dehydrating diarrheal disease of intense proportions that can quickly kill its victims. It is caused by the gram-negative bacterium, Vibrio cholerae that is a non-spore forming, curved rod that is oxidase positive (Chin et al., 2011). Vibrio cholerae has a type of semi-rigid cell wall that is peptidoglycan based which is enclosed within a capsule made of rigid accumulation and composed of gylcocalyx (Shier, Butler, & Lewis, 2011). The plasma membrane of V. cholerae is located beneath the cell wall, encloses the cytoplasm, and is made up of a phosphollipid bilayer (Shier et al., 2011). Its main function is to transport molecules in and out of the cell (Shier et al., 2011). Cholera is usually transmitted through contaminated water and if left untreated it can spread in a rapid manner (Chin et al., 2011). The Vibrio cholerae found in Haiti, is the El Tor O1 strain, which is the same strain that was identified during the Bangladesh Cholera infection in both 2002 and 2008 (Chin et al., 2011). Vibrio cholerae is very motile and has a single polar flagellum (Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC], (2010). Members of the genus Vibrio family of bacteria are facultative anaerobic, asporogenous, and can have curved or straight gram-negative rods (PHAC, 2010). Vibrios either require sodium chloride or have their growth stimulated by its addition (PHAC, 2010). There are many different types of Vibrionaceae, most of which are regular inhabitants of the marine environment (PHAC, 2010). Out of more than 30 types within the Vibrio-Photobacterium complex, only 12 have been recognized as being pathogens for humans (Shier et al., 2011). Although most of these 12 species are isolated from intestinal as well as extra-intestinal infections, only Vibrio cholerae is associated with epidemic cholera (Shier et al., 2011). Once inside a human body, the V.cholerae bracilli cells grow in the intestine and produce an exotoxin called Cholera toxin, which causes the hosts cells to secrete water and electrolytes, especially potassium (Shier et al., 2011). However, V. cholerae is very sensitive...

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