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A new era in the history of cholera: the road to elimination

Historical background

One hundred and fifty years ago, Snow made the historic discovery that contaminated water transmitted cholera, but there were many other key discoveries and notable developments in the history of cholera. Koch cultured V. cholerae, the bacterium about which Snow could only speculate,1 and S.N. De discovered the enterotoxin produced by the bacterium resulting in massive outpouring of fluid.2 But these discoveries, by themselves, did not save the lives of cholera’s victims; 50% of them died until intravenous hydration  therapy began to be used by Rogers in the early 1900s.3 This hypertonic intravenous solution reduced the case fatality rate, but not until the late 1950s and early 1960s were consistently successful treatments implemented based on careful intake and output balance studies.