Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Transfer of Cholera via Ballast Water?

It is very difficult to predict when Cholera outbreaks may occur, with low levels of infection common in many countries with cases being confused with other diarrhoeal diseases.  It is an opportunistic pathogen taking advantage of poor sanitation which so often occurs as a result of disasters and conflict. What is clear is that Cholera is both widespread and increasing in frequency with the WHO estimating between million cases last year. There are two strains of Vibrio cholerae, 01 which has been identified as the cause of the current epidemic in Haiti, and the South-East Asian strain 0139. It is thought that up to 75% of people infected with the bacterium may not develop symptoms but will excrete the bacterium with their faeces for up to 14 days. So the increase in air travel is often cited as the cause of smaller outbreaks.  There is also increasing concern that the bacterium can be transported via water and algae held in ballast tanks in ships which when discharged can contaminate surface waters and shellfish.  

2 comments:

  1. "There is also increasing concern that the bacterium can be transported via water and algae held in ballast tanks in ships which when discharged can contaminate surface waters and shellfish." THIS IS NOT TRUE, because it
    is a known fact that ballaast water dose facilitate movement of cholera, along with other harmful human bacteria and virus. H1N1, bird flue, etc. have been found, through government studies in melting fresh water lakes and glaciers in the Arctic as far back as 2005, known to be moved from one body of water to another by birds. With melting glaciers diluting sea salinity, and as new shipping lanes open in the Arctic ballast water should not be allowed to facilitate this pathogen movement. This problem has been sugar coated by media and politicians avoiding addressing it. Especially now when our governments plan is to have an economic recovery based on globalization, which will depend on increased shipping activity. This is the reason House legislation passed 395-7 in 2008 to prevent pathogens from being dumped in US waters, was killed by one Senator over states rights, and has not been addressed since.

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  2. Don Mitchell, who posted the last comment has his own blog on this very subject.(http://ballastwatervirus.blogspot.com/) It would be great if you could give us some key references for this Don. Thanks for your very interesting comment.

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