Via Nature News & Comment: Cholera vaccine deployed to control African outbreak. Excerpt:
For the first time, health officials in West Africa have begun a vaccination campaign to try to control cholera during an active epidemic.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Guinea, the charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders) has been administering the cholera vaccine Shanchol in the region of Boffa, 150 kilometres northwest of the country’s capital, Conakry. The programme began in late April, with patients receiving a two-dose oral vaccine. In total, almost 150,000 people received at least one dose of vaccine, and just over 110,000 people received a second dose.
Iza Ciglenecki, project manager for diarrhoeal diseases at MSF, ran the campaign in Guinea. She hopes that the results will lead to more widespread use of the vaccine in epidemics.
“Until very recently, no one was using this as an extra tool to control cholera,” she says. “We hope to add to the evidence base regarding this vaccine to help develop an intervention criteria for the control of cholera in outbreaks.”
The programme follows on the heels of two modelling studies, published in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases last year, which suggested that cholera vaccines were beneficial after outbreaks occurred in Vietnam and Zimbabwe1, 2. But more information is needed on how and when to administer the vaccine, explains Ciglenecki.
Surveillance systems in Boffa have been strengthened to enable the MSF to monitor the Guinean epidemic and to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine over the next six months.