You might argue that Robert Mugabe has used verbal diarrhoea to barricade his political position as the long-standing self-proclaimed President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, but his sequencial statements that there is no cholera outbreak (Nov 2008) followed by his statement that it is now controlled (11 Dec 2008 here) and lately his accusation that Western powers were using cholera as a biological weapon to launch “a calculated, racist, terrorist attack on Zimbabwe”, smacks of a strong sense of denial.
Denial…that 60,000 are suffering from cholera and 600 have died, with many more to come. Why cholera? In essence, the organism that causes cholera, Vibrio cholerae, is just one of the many micro-organisms which cause food-poisoning. However, the effects on an individual are devastating because this bacteria produces a deadly poison, an enterotoxin, that within 1 day of swallowing contaminated water, will cause extensive damage of the lining of the intestines which in turn leads to large volumes of watery diarrhoea leading to extreme dehydration and death.
Beyond all that, cholera existing in any country reflects on the low socio-economic status of that country; where insufficient healthcare resources are present, where there is a breakdown of adequate sewage and water facilities and where there is political instability.
Essentially a disease spread by the fecal-oral route, this is a polite way of saying that infection-laden stool from one person finds its way into the mouth of another person. This can occur indirectly when there is contamination of drinking water by sewage, as in Zimbabwe. While awaiting medications, people there would do well to boil drinking water and practise handwashing, both being cost-effective and efficient ways of preventing spread of disease.