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 South Africa
- 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.