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Haiti cholera mutations could lead to more severe disease

The cholera strain that transferred to Haiti in 2010 has multiple toxin gene mutations that may account for the severity of disease and is evolving to be more like an 1800s version of cholera, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

The strain, "altered El Tor," which emerged around 2000, is known to be more virulent and to cause more severe diarrhea and dehydration than earlier strains that had been circulating since the 1960s. This study reports the altered El Tor strain has acquired two additional signature mutations during the past decade that may further increase virulence.

In addition, these newly discovered signature mutations documented in the study further link the Haitian cholera epidemic to the strain from Nepal.

The paper will be published April 16 in the journal mBio.

The new Northwestern study suggests the strain with multi-signature toxin gene mutations may trigger a unique pattern of infection accounting for the severity of disease noted during the Haiti cholera outbreak.

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