Cholera and Ebola: A Threat to Our Environmental Freedom

Essay by JeronimoA+, July 2005

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Cholera, aka Asiatic Cholera or epidemic cholera, is an infectious disease of the gastrointestinal tract caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium. From the family Vibrionaceae, the bacterium is characterized as a gram-negative rod. As with other gram-negative rods, Vibrio cholerae produces an endotoxin, known as cholera toxin. This bacterium is mobile due to the presence of a single polar flagellum and is highly infectious. The Vibrio cholerae bacterium grows in both freshwater and marine habitats and also in association with aquatic animals.

Originally discovered in 1824 by the Italian Anatomist, Filippo Pacini, Vibrio cholera most likely originated in India with the Ganges River serving as the primary contamination reservoir. Nearly 30 years later bacteriologists Robert Koch and John Snow found the link between Cholera and drinking water. Since its discovery in the early 19th century Cholera has claimed many lives due to its transmission via the drinking water supply.

Through many years of research and chlorination of drinking water supplies, Cholera has not been considered a threat to the United States and Western Europe for nearly a century. However, purposeful introduction of the bacterium into a local water supply, could indeed cause contamination and mass spread of infection.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a highly infectious, highly fatal disease caused by the Ebola virus. Ebola virus is a member of the family Fivoviridae and is named after the Ebola River in the Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) which is where the first epidemic occurred in 1994. The virus is classified as follows:

Group: Group V ((-)ssRNA)

Order: Mononegavirales

Family: Filoviridae

Genus: Ebolavirus


Ivory Coast ebolavirus

Reston ebolavirus

Sudan ebolavirus

Zaire ebolavirus

The first two strains of the virus were identified in 1976 in Zaire and Sudan. Dr. F.A. Murphy was the first to isolate the virus...