Thursday 26 August 2010

Rain and cholera

More trouble being caused by heavy rains. Now they’re being blamed for a cholera outbreak that has hit a third of Nigeria’s 36 provinces. Doctors say the whole country is now threatened. So far, there have been more than 6,000 cases and more than 350 people have died.

The outbreak has also killed 200 people in neighbouring Cameroon, and in Pakistan doctors are also seeing cases in the wake of the monsoon floods. In the 19th Century, cholera was driven out of most of the industrialised world by improved hygiene, living conditions and public health measures.

The disease may have struck India as early as the 4th century BC, but the first pandemic is reckoned to have begun in 1817 at Jessore and then spread through the rest of India before attacking much of Asia as well as Russia and East Africa.

The UK was struck for the first time during the second pandemic, which started in Russia. It reached every corner of Britain and killed an estimated 60,000 people. Hungary and Russia lost perhaps 200,000 each. It managed to cross the Atlantic, causing many deaths in Canada, the USA, Mexico and Cuba. (See also my blogs of Jan 31 and July 20.)

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