Section 3 Introduction to cholera

, a disease that ravaged the 19th century

“the only pain I feel about death is that I can’t die for love.” This is what Garcia Marquez, the great magical realist writer, said in his famous novel love during cholera. During the period when cholera was rampant, Marquez showed all kinds of ways of love, whether happiness or poverty, or noble or vulgar, or debauchery or shyness. In such a special period, people who indulged in love even made “cholera itself become a love disease”. However, from a realistic point of view, no one will equate cholera with love. In the thousands of years of human history, few people died of love. However, in the 200 years of cholera, tens of millions of people died of infection.

disaster history

cholera pandemic

cholera is a severe intestinal infectious disease caused by Vibrio cholerae, which is usually transmitted through water and food infected by Vibrio cholerae. The main manifestation of cholera is that people will vomit less water and urine, and have no symptoms of severe diarrhea. More serious cases will die from shock, uremia or acidosis.

Vibrio cholerae

in the long history of mankind, there have been seven recorded cholera pandemics, of which the most famous is the Ganges cholera in 1817.

the Ganges originates from the gomke ice cave at the foot of the ganoteli glacier, flows through the Ganges plain and finally flows into the bay of Bengal. It has always been regarded as a “holy river” by devout Hindus. It is said that the water in the Ganges can cure diseases, eliminate disasters and prolong people’s life. The fresh water of the Ganges River preserved on ocean going ships can remain fresh even after a journey of ten thousand miles. More miraculously, some Henghe river water is injected into the culture medium containing dysentery and Vibrio cholerae, and all the bacteria will be killed in a few days. Later, scientists found that the Ganges River water contains uranium (214) produced by the transformation of radioactive mineralized material uranium (238), which can kill nearly 99% of the bacteria in the river.

however, to everyone’s surprise, the Ganges delta located in this “holy river” basin is “the hometown of human Cholera”. The Ganges delta in ancient India had a history of local cholera epidemic for a long time, but there was no large-scale outbreak of cholera due to the limitations of people’s activity area at that time. However, after entering the 19th century, the transportation and trade in Eurasia became more and more frequent, and the scope of people’s activities continued to expand, so cholera was spread rapidly. The first outbreak began in 1817. Cholera first spread from India to the Arab region, and then to Africa and the Mediterranean coast; The second pandemic occurred in 1826, when cholera had arrived in Afghanistan and Russia and then spread to the whole of Europe; In the third pandemic, it traveled across the sea to North America. By 1923, there had been six major outbreaks of cholera in just over a hundred years. The scope of its spread continued to expand, causing incalculable losses to mankind. More than 38 million people died of cholera in India alone.

in 1961, cholera began its seventh pandemic. It first started in Indonesia, then spread to other countries in Asia and Europe. In 1970, it entered Africa. Africa, which has not seen cholera for a century, has been deeply affected. In 1991, cholera began to attack Latin America, causing 400000 infections and 4000 deaths within one year. By 1993, 78 countries still reported cholera. At the peak of the cholera epidemic, 200000 people died of cholera worldwide every year. According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, cholera patients in Africa accounted for 94% of the world in 2001. So far, cholera has not been effectively controlled in some African countries.




were introduced into China from abroad when the first global pandemic of cholera occurred. From then on to nearly 130 years in 1948, there were no less than 100 large and small epidemics of cholera in China, of which more than 60 were serious and recorded. After the founding of new China, China strengthened the frontier health quarantine and infectious disease management, and vigorously carried out the mass patriotic health campaign, which made the classical cholera disappear from China quickly. However, in the 7th World pandemic of cholera, it appeared in Yangjiang, Yangchun and other places along the western coast of Guangdong in July 1961.

the spread of Cholera

after entering the 19th century, with the expansion of trade, the scope of people’s activities continued to expand. In 1829, cholera entered an active period. With the pace of people’s activities, it began to radiate from India and has been forced to the densely populated European center. In the autumn of 1830, cholera was still confined to Moscow, but in the spring of the next year, it had reached St. Petersburg along the Baltic Sea, then quickly spread to Finland, Poland, South to Hungary and finally to Australia.

people who died in the cholera epidemic

alarm everywhere in the European continent, British politicians, doctors, scientists and the general public are also worried about the development of the epidemic. On June 2, 1831, the then King William IV of England said at the opening ceremony of Parliament: “I would like to announce to you the continuous development of the terrible diseases we are concerned about in Eastern Europe. At the same time, we must find ways to prevent this disaster from entering Britain.” However, the disease spread here before the British came up with any way. In 1831, the notorious British East India Company brought back a large amount of gold and silver from the Ganges Delta, as well as cholera. At that time, the British people’s understanding of cholera was limited to its symptoms and amazing lethality, but they knew nothing about its transmission and treatment. People use castor oil to wash their intestines and stomach, and some even use electric shock or hot iron to scald all parts of the body, but it is obvious that it is not effectiveThe continued spread of cholera cannot be stopped. In 1832, more than 80000 people died on the three British islands within a year.

in March 1832, cholera crossed the Atlantic and arrived in the United States and Canada. At the same time, the epidemic also occurred in France, Belgium, Norway and other countries. At that time, Heine, a famous German poet in Paris, once recorded the situation at that time: “When cholera was announced in Paris on March 29, many people didn’t agree. They laughed at the fear of disease, let alone the emergence of cholera. That night, many dance halls were crowded with people, and the hysterical laughter drowned out the loud music. Suddenly, in a dance hall, one of the funniest clowns fell down with his legs. After he took off his mask, he was shocked They were surprised to find that his face was blue and purple. The laughter suddenly disappeared, and the carriage quickly took the revelers from the dance floor to the hospital. But soon they fell down one by one, still dressed in Carnival clothes…

before the arrival of cholera, the Americans had been warned. They also formed a special committee to deal with the disease. Doctors also gathered together to talk about the response measures when cholera appeared, but there was no result. After cholera arrived in the United States, many New Yorkers fled the city to find shelter in the countryside. Centered in New York State, cholera gradually spread around. It reached the Midwest of the United States through the Erie Canal, and then arrived in New Orleans by inland carriages and coastal ships. It quickly claimed the lives of more than 5000 people in New Orleans. In the following two years, cholera rose and fell, and tens of millions of people were infected and killed.

Revenge of nature

polluted rivers

water plays an irreplaceable role as a necessity for our life. However, unclean water sources often become the best channel for disease transmission. Most of the cholera outbreaks in Peru were caused by water pollution. For example, the cholera epidemic in Peru in 1991 was found to be mainly due to the lack of clean drinking water. Lima, which now has a population of 7 million, still uses a water supply system built in the early 20th century. This system was originally designed to meet the needs of 230000 people. Now it has experienced serious aging, and many pipelines have leakage problems. According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, it was the seriously problematic water supply system in the city that spread the bacteria.

in Chimbote, 350 kilometers north of the capital of Peru, the use of water is even worse, because there is no complete drainage system here. A large amount of wastewater is directly poured into the river, and the water needed by people’s life is directly extracted from the river. There are only some wells in Trujillo, about 500 kilometers away from Lima. There is no river here. People in the city take water from the wells. However, the groundwater in the wells is extremely easy to be polluted by sewage.

in 1991, 336554 people in Peru were infected with cholera, of which 3538 died. The plague spread through Latin America and finally subsided in 1994. In September of that year, 1041422 people were infected and 9643 people died in central and South America. However, the World Health Organization estimated that the data in the report was only about 2% of the actual data. If so, 52 million people were infected, accounting for almost 12% of the population of the continent, and more than 482000 people died.




the problem of urban water supply system is the main cause of cholera in Peru, but the most important reason is the high pollution of Peruvian water source itself. This pollution comes from the sea, and environmental problems have become the number one “killer” of modern plague. In 1990, the rainfall in the Midwest of the United States and the Mississippi valley was very huge. The soaring rivers poured into the Gulf of Mexico, carrying a large amount of pesticides, chemicals and human and animal waste. This flooding into the sea is one reason for the presence of chloride in dead marine animals off the coast of the United States.

the history of human development is the history of continuous demand from nature. Human beings try their best to extract wealth from nature and wantonly destroy the environment. Human deforestation and overgrazing have turned large areas of forests and grasslands into wasteland; In order to control pests, various chemicals were used, but eventually led to the emergence of more and more drug-resistant insects. As human behavior becomes more and more excessive, nature also begins to warn people in its unique way: severe weather such as strong wind and hail occur frequently, and many new diseases spread wildly. Countless painful lessons wake us up: only when we live in harmony with nature can we really avoid these disasters.

Encyclopedia of

although there are many kinds of plague infectious diseases, as long as we pay attention to the following points, pay attention to prevention, early detection, early isolation, early diagnosis and early treatment, we can effectively reduce the occurrence and spread of diseases.

1. Windows should be opened every day to keep the indoor air fresh.

2. Wash hands frequently, preferably with flowing water, and do a good job in personal hygiene.

3. Try not to go to places with dense population and serious air pollution, such as song and dance halls, cinemas, etc.

4. Wear a mask when you go to the hospital and wash your hands when you go home to avoid cross infection.

5. Usually pay more attention to exercise, exercise, enhance resistance, eat reasonably, enhance nutrition, and pay attention not to excessive fatigue.

6. Vaccinate on time.

7. Avoid contacting infectious patients and try not to go to the epidemic area of infectious diseases.

8. Articles and rooms used by infectious patients should be disinfected.