Cholera is a bacterial infection, mostly transmitted through the consumption of water contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Outbreaks can occur periodically in any part of the world where water supplies, sanitation, food safety and hygiene practices are inadequate. Overpopulated communities, usually in the developing world, with poor sanitation and unsafe drinking water supplies are most frequently affected.
Recent cholera outbreaks in SA
- In 2004, 1773 cases were reported in Mpumalanga’s Nkomazi region, which borders Mozambique. 29 people died.
- During 2004, 738 people were diagnosed with cholera in the Eastern Cape, four of which died. And 260 more cases occurred in the North West. Two people died.
- South Africa suffered a cholera outbreak in 2003 when 3 901 cases were reported in Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. 45 deaths occured.
- By 2003 the 2000/2001 epidemic subsided and 3901 cases, and 45 deaths were reported for the year.
- In August 2000, South Africa experienced the start of one of the worst cholera epidemics nationwide in recent history. By July 2001, 106 389 people had been infected and 232 had died. The wrath of the epidemic hit KwaZulu-Natal, and people from Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Northern Province were also affected.
- In the 1980s South Africa had seven periods of cholera epidemics usually between the months of October to June.
Global cholera outbreaks
- In August this year a serious cholera outbreak hit northern Iraq. An estimated 30 000 people have fallen ill with acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), usually associated with cholera.
- In August this year WHO reported 2060 cases of AWD in Somaliland, in the eastern “Horn of Africa” region. 31 people died.
- From April 2006 to February 2007, 680 people died in Ethiopia (also in East Africa) from a suspected cholera outbreak, however, country health officials never officially declared the outbreak.
- Djibouti, also situated on the eastern “Horn of Africa” reported 322 cases and 23 deaths from cholera in February this year. By May another 76 cases has occurred, five of whom died.
- In 2006 Angola was hit by a severe cholera outbreak. The country reported a total of almost 70 000 cases including 2760 deaths.
- Between January and June 2006 a total of 16 187 cases, including 476 deaths of AWD was reported in southern Sudan.
Cholera wave hit West Africa
A serious cholera outbreak raged in West Africa in 2005, affecting nearly 50 000 people in the region:
- Benin: 210 cases – 4 deaths
- Burkina Faso: 615 cases – 9 deaths
- Guinea: 1956 cases – 9 deaths
- Guinea-Bissau: 14303 cases – 252 deaths
- Mali: 158 cases – 20 deaths
- Mauritania: 2640 cases – 55 deaths
- Niger: 72 cases – 9 deaths
- Senegal: 23 325 cases – 303 deaths
2. DoH – Trends and statistics
Interactive cholera map