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Cholera is an infectious intestinal disease common in Southern Asia Cholera is caused by a comma-shaped bacterium called Vibrio Choleras The microorganism is transmitted by water or food that has been contaminated with the feces of people who have the disease Cholera occurs when Vibrio Cholera enters the intestines and releases Cholera toxin The toxin causes the intestine to secrete large amounts of water and salt Because the intestine cannot absorb the water and salt at the rate they are secreted the patient suffers severe diarrhea This loss of fluid causes severe dehydration and changes in the body chemistry If untreated the illness can lead to shock and eventually death With proper treatment Cholera lasts only a few days Prevention of Cholera requires adequate sanitation facilities A vaccine against the illness has been developed but it is not very effective People who travel in areas where Cholera is widespread should not drink the local water They should cook all foods that may have been exposed to water Peru already afflicted by economic ills and feastering guerilla insurgency is now plagued by an epidemic of Cholera As of February 25 1991 the disease had claimed 90 lives and infected at least 14000 people It is the first major outbreak of Cholera in the western hemisphere since early in this century In Peru local authorities have moved quickly to stem the epidemic which is spread by poor hygiene and contaminated water raw food and fish To avoid spreading health officials in Ecuador Bolivia and Chile have prohibited the importation of uncooked Peruvian food products Coastal waters have shown a high degree of contamination by testings In early May 1991 as Cholera began to spread eastward into Perus jungle volunteer doctors from Lima began to navigate the rivers with boats of Peruvian Amazons stopping at each silt- house hamlet searching for the sick The doctors brought their IUS rehydration packets to the people who drink the contaminated river
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