Cholera Outbreak.

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In the news lately, there have been reports of a cholera outbreak occurring in Sierra Leonean. Sadly, this recent outbreak has cause over 300 deaths! It is the same disease that affected parts of Haiti (source).

What is cholera? Cholera is a disease caused by Vibrio cholerae, a microorganism that when ingested wrecks havoc in the small intestine, causing lots and lots of watery diarrhea (and vomiting). Cholera is spread by drinking water that has been contaminated by feces (in the case of Sierra Leonean and Haiti, this was likely due to mass flooding, mixing clean water with dirty, fecal matter-contaminated water). 

The most unfortunate part, is that even though hundreds of people are dying, the treatment to this disease is quite simple. The vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration (loss of water).  Dehydration, when not treated, can cause death due to electrolytes being imbalanced (sodium, potassium, etc).  It is this dehydration/electrolyte imbalance that is killing people, not the Vibrio cholerae itself. The treatment for cholera is simply to correct the dehydration/electrolyte imbalance with sports drinks (like Gatorade), water mixed with honey, sea salt, and lemon, or the fancy oral rehydration solution. 

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