Interestingly enough, Cholera outbreaks in London in the 19th century played a crucial role in establishing modern sanitary practices as we know them today. English physician John Snow demonstrated the causal link between inadequate sewerage and sanitation, and outbreaks of the disease.
Cholera infection causes acute diarrhoea, vomiting, and in extreme cases, death by dehydration.
Even in the 21st century, Cholera remains a massive killer – affecting 3-5 million worldwide each year. Untreated severe cholera is fatal in approximately 50% of cases. While improved sanitation has eliminated cholera on an epidemic scale in the developed world, it is still observed occasionally. In Australia there are about 2-6 cases each year, mainly due to eating contaminated shellfish overseas. Though the Australian Department of Health notes that many cases go unreported.
Most food-borne cholera cases come from under cooked or raw shellfish collected from contaminated waters. In addition, foods or surfaces washed with infected water can carry the bacteria.
In order to avoid a nasty case of cholera – avoid eating raw or uncooked seafood products, particularly in areas known to have had recent outbreaks, or in undeveloped countries. If you have to eat seafood which is potentially contaminated, be sure to cook the food to at least boiling temperatures in order to kill cholera bacteria.
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