Monday, February 2, 2009

The great cholera epidemic

The humongous cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe at the moment introduces another funny bug, Vibrio cholerae.

Such a tragic epidemic that has left more than 60,000 people reeling and at least 3100 dead. Tragic because it is such a manageable disease by today's standards. The water can be disinfected and the profuse debilitating diarrhea managed.

This vicious bug has no concern for its human host because it is a freewheeling, freeliving organism that can exist in various aquatic reservoirs. It callously makes use of the human body as little more than an incubation chamber, even exploiting the gastric acidity to enhance its virulence. Once it secures itself on the intestinal mucosae, it releases a potent toxin that causes a profuse watery diarrhea. The poor victim continues to pass out buckets of watery stool full of bugs that are ready to inflict damage on the rest of the world. It doesn't really care if the host dies.

Apparently first detected in India, it is thought to have originated there, in the fetid waters of the Ganges. The first pandemic was recorded in the early nineteenth century so it does not seem to be a very ancient bug.

When I was reading this, I immediately thought of the nouveau riche 'chau ah bengs', who obvious care little for the world they inhabit. They rape and pillage resources in order to propagate their genes, and are oblivious to the the damage they inflict on the rest of mankind, or the world they live in. Like the cholera bug, I don't think they care if the world dies in their wake.


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