Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract

2017 Edition
| Editors: Fátima Carneiro, Paula Chaves, Arzu Ensari


  • Xavier SagaertEmail author
Reference work entry


Cholera is an infectious, often fatal bacterial disease of the intestine, caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Vibrio cholera. Infection with V. cholerae occurs after ingestion of contaminated food or water. In the developed world, shellfish is the usual cause, while in the developing world, it is mostly water. Direct person-to-person spread is rare but has been implicated in hospital outbreaks and during burial ceremonies requiring handling of intestinal contents. V. cholerae also colonizes arthropods, and flies have been postulated as potential hosts and possible disease vectors.

Most ingested V. cholerae bacteria are sensitive to the gastric acid barrier, and are rapidly killed. However, some bacteria may survive transit through the stomach by virtue of low gastric acidity of a compromised host, protection within food, rapid gastric emptying, or a large inoculum size. Following colonization of the small intestinal epithelium with the aid of flagella, V. choleraestart...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Gill, D. M. (1976). Arrangement of subunits in cholera toxin. Biochemistry, 15, 1242–1248.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Harris, J. B., LaRocque, R. C., Charles, R. C., Mazumder, R. N., Khan, A. I., & Bardhan, P. K. (2010). Cholera’s western front. Lancet, 376, 1961–1965.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Harris, J. B., LaRocque, R. C., Qadri, F., Ryan, E. T., & Calderwood, S. B. (2012). Cholera. Lancet, 379, 2466–2476.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Nelson, E. J., Chowdhury, A., Harris, J. B., et al. (2007). Complexity of rice-water stool from patients with Vibrio cholerae plays a role in the transmission of infectious diarrhea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104, 19091–19096.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Norris, H. T. (1973). Changing pattern of autopsy findings in patients dying of cholera after 1960. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 22, 215–222.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PathologyUniversity Hospitals KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium