Cholera – Cameroon

Cameroonian health officials report 29 deaths in a week from cholera, on March 25. More than 300 cases have been officially reported in the country’s southwest, according to Cameroonian health officials.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by Vibrio cholerae, characterized by gastroenteritis manifestations with rapid dehydration due to loss of water and electrolytes with vomit and loose stools. The special severity of the disease, contagiousness, high mortality, the ability to epidemic and even pandemic spread served as the basis for including cholera in the group of especially dangerous quarantine infections.

The governor of the affected region, Bernard Ocalia Bilai, said the outbreak was caused by a lack of clean water and urged local authorities to build public toilets.

Photo: Vibrio tasmaniensis bacteria, a close relative of Vibrio cholerae.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by a bacterial infection. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The main risk is severe dehydration, this happens sometimes within hours.

It is spread mostly by unsafe water and unsafe food that has been contaminated with human feces containing the bacteria. Under-cooked seafood is a common source.

Risk factors for the disease include poor sanitation, not enough clean drinking water, and poverty.

Cholera affects an estimated 3–5 million people worldwide and causes 28.800–130.000 deaths a year. Areas with ongoing risk include Africa and South East Asia, where it occurs in outbreaks.

Descriptions of cholera are found as early as the 5th century BC in Sanskrit.

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