December 22,

A recent medical study held in Bangladesh investigated the effectiveness of traditional cholera treatments and possible alternatives. The problem of cholera is very complicated in third world countries where the water supplies can be the source of numerous bacteriological diseases.

Apart from the aspect of water supplies another problem, which contributes to the development of cholera epidemics in poor countries, is that traditional medication gradually loses its effectiveness with bacteria developing resistance to it.

In such situation finding a new drug for treating cholera is crucial. Having these goals the study compared Cipro (ciprofloxacin), which is commonly used in cases of severe cholera for over a decade, and a macrolide antibiotic. The study involved 195 men suffering from severe cholera, divided into two groups. The first group was given Cipro and the second - macrolides respectively. The results where impressive and gave base to an intense discussion about the effectiveness of medicine used for cholera treatment today as well as the possibility of using macrolide antibiotics in such cases. Cipro, which only a few years back was effective in a single dose against cholera, failed in ¾ of the patients in the study.

This can be explained by the fact that Vibrio cholerae - the bacteria causing cholera - was able to rapidly develop tolerance reaction to Cipro, rendering it ineffective with time. In contrast, macrolide antibiotic treatment has shown significant results with 73% of the patients being cured with a single dose.

Furthermore, the group treated with macrolides has had illness symptoms manifested only for 30 hours after taking the medicine in comparison to more than three days in case of Cipro. Although, the studies were held on men only, there's no reason to believe the results would be different in case of women. The results of this study have displayed the importance of developing new drugs which would be as effective as Cipro was a decade ago.

Macrolide antibiotics used in the study seem like a great alternative to the traditional medication. There are numerous generic variations to this class of drugs, like Zithromax, which are available all over the world. But still, the doctors argue that a single drug will not solve the problem of cholera, because it is primarily caused by poor sanitation and water supplies.

The bacteria may develop resistance to Zithromax with time too, like in case of Cipro, thus it can't be regarded as a constant solution to the problem. The radical changes concerning sanitation and water supplies, which Europe and America have undergone a century ago, should be taken in developing countries too, but that seems like a much more complex solution compared to medications.

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