1961-75 Cholera Pandemic

In light of the increasing death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, other pandemics that affected India are being discussed.

El Tor Strain

The cholera pandemic of 1961 was caused by a particular strain of Vibrio cholerae bacteria, called the El Tor strain. It was identified in Sinai Peninsula in El Tor of Egypt, in pilgrims returning from Mecca. The strain is noted for being able to survive in the body for longer than the usual cholera bacteria- implying the risk of long term carriers. It also causes milder symptoms or asymptomatic conditions which enabled it causing a pandemic.

Symptoms of Cholera

Cholera is a disease of the small intestine caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria. It causes vomiting and diarrhoea resulting in electrolytic imbalance and dehydration. It is also called the ‘blue death’ because of the bluish color acquired by the patient’s skin due to severe loss of fluids.

About the Pandemic

The 1961 pandemic is the 7th cholera pandemic in the world. It began in Makassar in Indonesia. It spread to South-east Asia and South Asia. It reached India in 1964. The pandemic had also spread to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.