Saturday, June 25, 2011
Why Cholera Is Only A Disease of Poor Countries
Since John has been in Haiti working at a Cholera Treatment Center, a few people have asked me how he makes sure he doesn't get the disease. What I tell them is that he doesn't really have to worry about it. People get cholera by drinking dirty water. It is rarely spread through person to person contact. In theory, cholera could be spread by the feces or vomit of an infected person, but as long as John and other health care workers take regular precautions in working with patients, they aren't in danger of contracting it.
There have been a few people who have entered the United States with cholera since the Haitian epidemic. In fact, an article in John's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that arrived today discusses a man in Massachusetts who had been in the Dominican Republic where he contracted cholera. As the doctors in the article reiterated, cholera epidemics are a function of dirty water and inadequate sanitation, neither of which those of us in the United States or other developed countries have to worry about. And most of the citizens from these developed countries don't have to worry about contracting the disease, even when they are in a country, like Haiti, where there is a cholera outbreak.
Cholera, like many other rotten things, discriminates in favor of poor people.
Pictured above is a patient from the Cholera Treatment Center where John is working at Hopital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles, Haiti.