FOR the long-suffering people of
Bangladesh, India and more recently
Latin America, who have to contend
with frequent outbreaks of cholera, here
is a message of hope from Rita Colwell,
a researcher at the Maryland Universit),
Washington. Her research has revealed
that a major outbreak of cholera can be
prevented by keeping a watch on the
growth of a type of aquatic plant known
as the phytoplankton.
Cholera is a threat whenever clean water is scarce and is caused by a kind of bacteria called -,qbrio cholerae. Colwell has discovered that a kind of microscopic aquatic animal, the zooplankton which also thrives in cold water, is the primary carrier of the cholera virus. An individual zooplankton can carry as many as 10,000 vibrios and can enter a human body through water or even through fish or shellfish picked up from a pond or river. Colwell has further observed that the population of zooplankton increases - usually in the summers - when an aquatic plant, the phytoplankton, which forms the primary diet of the little animals, grows in abundance. This is inevitably followed by an outbreak of cholera. Colwell suggests that the bloom of phytoplankton should be monitored by keeping a close watch on the satellite images of the earth. And the alarm signals should be sent vigorously ringing whenever there is a significant change in the growth of the phytoplanktons.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.