There was never a time when anyone loved cholera. And Gabriel García Márquez notwithstanding, the sufferings of romantic entanglements are only marginally comparable to those of V. cholerae infections.
When this water-borne bacteria pursues its victims, it produces a toxin that attacks the lining of the small intestine. Yes, the stomach-churning discomfort is vaguely reminiscent of the pangs of lovesickness – but less so the quick progression to unrelenting diarrhea and life-threatening low blood pressure. In addition, very few lovers suffer dehydration so severe that the body goes into shock, sometimes precipitating their demise in less than a day.
While it’s true that passion can occasionally have tragic consequences, mortality rates are low compared with those of cholera infections which, if the disease is left untreated, can be as high as 60 %.
Fortunately, over the last 100 years, cholera has become increasingly scarce. Fecal matter is the prime carrier of cholera, and in nations that feature modern plumbing and water sanitation systems, cholera is now virtually unknown.
When it does occasionally appear, cholera is rarely a match for modern medicine: victims can receive proper hydration in a hospital – and antibiotics if necessary. (In a pinch, a homemade solution using water, sugar, table salt, baking soda, and fruit can help restore electrolyte levels.)
Sadly, the pains of love, unlike those of cholera, have yet to be plumbed – and there is no known cure.