WHO has published Cholera risks high across world, but deadly disease can be controlled. Excerpt:
From Tanzania to South Sudan, and Nepal to Yemen, cholera – and the threat of a cholera outbreak – is a major public health concern for governments and the international health community. Use of Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) is proving to be an efficient tool to effectively control cholera outbreaks. New outbreaks are ongoing in South Sudan and Tanzania fanned by insecurity and displacement.
Intensive control efforts are ongoing, and vaccination programmes have been rolled out to target communities at risk. In conflict-wracked Yemen and earthquake-ravaged Nepal, WHO has been working with national authorities and partners on the ground to prepare for any outbreak of cholera, as well as acute water diarrhoea.
What is cholera?
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, watery diarrhoea; vomiting also occurs in most patients. Cholera can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death without prompt treatment.
Effectively controlling cholera
WHO and its partners are responding to outbreaks to effectively control the deadly water-borne disease through improved water and sanitation practices, use of oral cholera vaccines, better surveillance, and greater awareness among communities as to how to control it. The WHO-led Global Task Force on Cholera Control (1) aims to end cholera deaths by strengthening international collaboration and increasing coordination among partners in 3 of the main situations where cholera circulates:
1. in endemic conditions, where the disease is entrenched in communities, such as regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
2. in sudden outbreaks, where an instant vaccination response is deemed most effective, such as in Guinea and Malawi;
3. and as a consequence of a humanitarian crisis, such as the late 2013 outbreak in South Sudan, or current outbreak in Tanzania when thousands of people displaced by fighting in neighbouring Burundi were successfully vaccinated against the disease.