Cholera, diarrhea, and oral rehydration therapy: triumph and indictment.
Cholera drove the sanitary revolution in the industrialized world in the 19th century and now is driving the development of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) in the developing world. Despite the long history of cholera, only in the 1960s and 1970s was ORT fully developed. Scientists described this treatment after the discovery of the intact sodium-glucose intestinal cotransport in patients with cholera. This new understanding sparked clinical studies that revealed the ability of ORT to reduce the mortality associated with acute diarrheal disease. Despite the steady reductions in mortality due to acute dehydrating diarrheal diseases achieved by ORT, the costly morbidity due to these diseases remains, the result of a failure to globalize sanitation and to control the developmental impact of diarrheal diseases and their associated malnutrition. New advances in oral rehydration and nutrition therapy and new methods to recognize its costs are discussed in this review.