May 29, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

WHO warns of spread of cholera

The World Health Organization has reported a high risk of the spread of cholera and associated increased mortality.

In a fact sheet published Thursday night, WHO notes that new cases of cholera have been reported from 24 countries (as of March 20). The document says, quotes TASS:

“Since February 11, 2023, when the previous overview of cholera in the world was published, the global situation has deteriorated. Four new countries have reported outbreaks of the disease, and their total number as of March 20 has reached 24. Given the current situation, WHO assesses the risk at the global level as very high.”

Earlier this year, cholera outbreaks expanded in South East Africa. Potential deterioration of the situation is noted in March in Malawi and Mozambique due to Cyclone Freddie. New outbreaks were recorded at the beginning of 2023 in Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, in the Horn of Africa region. The WHO report says:

“The overall ability to respond to multiple and simultaneous outbreaks continues to be under strain due to a global lack of resources, including a shortage of oral cholera vaccine.”

There is concern about the high mortality associated with cholera. Many countries, the WHO notes, “reported higher fatality rates than in previous years.” In 2021, the median case fatality rate averaged globally at 1.9% and Africa at 2.9%, representing a “significantly overshoot” of less than 1% and “the highest recorded over than in a decade.”

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae when contaminated food or water is ingested. Cholera remains a global threat to public health and a sign of inequality and lack of social development.

On WHO official website contains basic information about the disease:

  1. Most infected people have either no or mild symptoms, and the disease is successfully treated with oral rehydration salt solutions.
  2. In 2017, the global cholera strategy End Cholera Roadmap to 2030 was adopted to reduce cholera deaths by 90%.
  3. Researchers estimate that between 1.3 million and 4.0 million cases of cholera and 21,000–143,000 deaths from cholera occur annually worldwide.
  4. Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease that, if left untreated, can be fatal in a few hours.
  5. Safe water supply and sanitation are critical to preventing and controlling the spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
  6. Severe cases require prompt treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
  7. Oral cholera vaccines should be used in conjunction with improved water supply and sanitation to control outbreaks and for prevention in areas at high risk of cholera.

In the 19th century, cholera spread around the world from its original reservoir in the Ganges Delta in India. Subsequently, there were six pandemics that claimed the lives of millions of people on all continents. The seventh pandemic began in 1961 in South Asia, spread to Africa in 1971, and in 1991 to the Americas. Cholera is now endemic in many countries.

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