Opening a new door to an effective vaccine and therapy for a disease that strikes thousands annually, researchers at Dartmouth Medical School discovered that the bacteria that causes the intestinal disease Cholera spreads in the environment in much the same way it infects humans. Appearing in the December 8 issue of the journal Nature, the study investigates the bacterium Vibrio cholerae and its ability to attach to a host, enabling it to multiply and adding to the risk of infecting humans.
"Weve discovered, through genetics, a factor that is important in the normal biology of the organism out in the environment and it is also one of the very initial factors for cholera colonization in the intestine," said Dr. Ronald Taylor, professor of microbiology and immunology at DMS who led the research. "Now that we know what the bacterium attaches to in the intestine, we can find ways to block that initial contact."
Cholera and the bacterium that causes it is found in contaminated drinking water and food, often in underdeveloped countries and refugee camps. Once the disease takes hold, it causes diarrhea, vomiting, severe dehydration and can result in death if treatment is not promptly given. In 2001 alone, 28 countries reported over 40 outbreaks of cholera to the World Health Organization, resulting in the deaths of thousands.
Andrew Nordhoff | EurekAlert!
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