Une first for more than 40 years. According to the Spanish newspaper El País, a teenager residing in the province of Castile was infected with the bacterium close to that of cholera after consuming tap water from a farm in which she lived, Wednesday, June 22. According to the health authorities, the young girl would not have contracted cholera itself, the pathogen found did not produce the toxins responsible for diarrhea and other symptoms. “Therefore, he is not considered a case of cholera, but of gastroenteritis by vibrio”, indicated the ministry of Health. Although it is not a confirmed case of cholera, suspected for several hours, this type of infection is very rare in Spain.
There has not been any indigenous case of cholera on Spanish soil since 1979, hence the responsiveness of the health authorities. ” This is not a serious case, despite this the breeding has been closed to ensure that there are no more risks for the population, “explained a spokesperson for the local authorities, before knowing that the pathogen detected was devoid of the toxin responsible for cholera. As a reminder, cholera – caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae – causes diarrhea, cramps and general weakness in humans.
Overall, the disease is often mild and carriers of the disease may be asymptomatic. It is nevertheless considered very dangerous for the most fragile – young children and the elderly. And this, due to loss of large quantities of fluids and mineral salts. These losses are caused by the presence of a toxin normally produced by the bacteria mentioned above. In the case diagnosed on Wednesday, this is not present. Without it, Vibrio cholerae causes sometimes serious gastrointestinal problems, but patients are not considered to have cholera. These infections are exceptional in Spain.
The last epidemic in Spain dates back to 1979
Generally, cholera is transmitted during contact with a patient – symptomatic or not – or by consuming water but also food that may have been contaminated by the bacteria. A mode of transmission which explains why this disease is today particularly present in the least developed countries. According to the World Health Organization, every year up to 4 million cases are diagnosed.
In Spain, there has not been a cholera epidemic since 1979. From that time on, a few – sporadic – cases were identified, but considered “imported” cases. To avoid falling into an unmanageable health situation, 600,000 Spaniards were vaccinated after the discovery of seven cases in 1971. Ditto in 1979, when 264 people fell ill. In France, vaccination against cholera is not compulsory. Indeed, the available vaccines do not offer long-term protection, only travelers going to countries affected by a cholera epidemic are invited to receive the serum.