Global rates of cholear rise for the first time since 2000

The World Health Organization recently announced that global rates of cholera have increased for the first time since 2000, with the Haitian outbreak tipping the burden away from Africa for the first time since 1995.

A cholera outbreak that occurred along the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo is responsible for almost 4,000 infections and approximately 300 deaths in four provinces, while the rainy season and additional flooding on the island of Hispaniola has given new life to the ongoing outbreak in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, according to CIDRAP News.

In May, the World Health Assembly, prompted by the widening distribution of the disease, adopted a resolution to implement a global approach to control cholera. The WHO has since determined that new strains of cholera that cause more severe illness, microbial resistance and climate change are behind the global increase in the illness.

The WHO is urging the use of new and safe oral cholera vaccines to control the spread of the disease. It wants to see the use of these vaccines in areas where cholera is endemic, in high-risk populations and in large-scale epidemics, especially when other interventions cannot be implemented effectively.

More financial funding will be needed to help countries in the developing world to improve water supplies, increase access to hygiene and sanitation, and to develop new prevention and control strategies.