Cholera resurgence? Several countries record case surge, deaths since October

This is amid a shortage of cholera vaccines & strained healthcare systems due to COVID-19 pandemic

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 12 December 2022
Cholera resurgence? Several countries record case surge, deaths since October
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

Several countries across the world have reported a surge in cholera cases this year, raising concerns about a global resurgence of the disease. These include Kenya, Malawi, Haiti and the Philippines. 

In most of these countries, the surge has been recorded since October, according to data shared by the United Nations and media reports. 

Malawi reported its largest outbreak of the decade this year, spreading over 27 of its 29 districts. As of November 13, 2022, the country recorded 8,111 cases and 241 deaths, according to WHO. The caseload crossed 10,000 by December 8, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Africa. 

In Haiti, “283 people have died, nearly 12,000 have been hospitalised, and more than 14,000 suspected cases have been recorded”, the UN shared December 8. 

In Kenya, the health ministry declared an outbreak on October 19, 2022. “As of November 13, 2022, a total of 568 cases with 281 confirmed (48 cases by culture and 233 by rapid diagnostic test) and 15 deaths — a case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.6 per cent” were reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) observed. 

By December 2, the number of deaths rose to 22 from 310 cases, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres, an international, independent medical humanitarian organisation. This means the CFR was 6 per cent, much higher than WHO Kenya’s prediction of 1 per cent, the organisation tweeted. 

In the Philippines, 5,291 cases reported till November 12, 2022 since the beginning of the year, according to the country’s department of health. Of this, nearly 1,200 additional confirmed cholera cases were recorded since October. 

Lebanon also reported its first cholera cases since 1993 in October this year, according to official records. 

This is amid a shortage of cholera vaccines, according to an article published in the journal Science November 30, 2022. Experts believe that global warming may have heightened the chances of the disease spreading and strained healthcare facilities due to COVID-19 also may have reduced access to treatment and prevention. 

“The 36 million vaccine doses expected to be shipped from the stockpile this year won’t be enough,” the piece noted. 

Cholera, spread through water or food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, can cause severe diarrhea and kills an estimated 20,000 to 140,000 people each year, it added.

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