The Most Recent Epidemics Around The World – #9

Human beings are social creatures. Along with our tendency to form groups and communities comes the inherent risk of disease transmission. The closer we live and the more derelict we tend to be in our duties towards maintaining sanitary living conditions, the more openly we can invite some of the worst pathogens we never want to see.


Thus, let’s take a stroll down the past 15 years and recall some of the most crucial diseases that delivered a substantial blow to human society, reminding us of the cunningness of virology and taking us back to our humble beginnings.


Over the next several weeks, I will be dedicating one article each to the top 10 most recent disease outbreaks around the world, with our next one at #9.


9. Cholera

Cholera is a bacterial infection caused by the consumption of water infested with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The primary symptom of the condition is severe diarrhea, which can cause substantial dehydration and loss of crucial electrolytes from the body. As a result of this electrolyte imbalance, muscle cramps can also be perpetuated. The disease has a relatively quick onset upon exposure, showing symptoms between a few hours to 5 days. Without treatment, the hypovolemic shock can be lethal, leading to possible death.


Zimbabwe had one of the biggest cases of cholera in 2008-2009, where 98,592 cases were reported and 4288 patients died as a result of the infection. In its report, the World Health Organization (WHO) further stated that the primary causes of the outbreak could be linked to lack of sanitation and safe water supply along. Low awareness among the populace as well as limited access to care exacerbated the outbreak even further.


In usual cases, cholera is relatively easy to treat with oral rehydration therapy. However, given the unpredictable living conditions in certain parts of Zimbabwe, the epidemic took hold and spread throughout the region, claiming the lives of many people in the process.


A map of the 2008 cholera outbreak in the various regions of Zimbabwe.


A depiction of the breakdown in disease incidence among the various regions of Zimbabwe as well as a trend towards an increasing number of cases over the duration of the outbreak.


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Yash Pandya

Yash Pandya is a science writer at The "Almost" Doctor's Channel. He is a rising third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Emergency Medicine with minors in Neuroscience and Chemistry. Yash plans on attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Fall 2016 with guaranteed admission. In addition to the usual humdrum of academic involvement, Yash loves to play Ping Pong, catch up on the latest "Big Bang Theory," and travel. Having lived in India for half his lifetime, Yash aspires to expand his horizons into international healthcare by practicing medicine globally.