Cholera – Philippines

During the period from January 1 to December 10, 2022, the Philippines reported 6,126 cases of cholera. Despite this increase, local governments have not declared an outbreak as the cases have been manageable due to the close cooperation between hospitals and the Health Department in monitoring and treating patients.

Compared to the same period in 2021, when 1,584 cases were reported, the number of cholera cases in 2022 was 287% higher. Most of these cases were reported in Region VIII (3,773 cases), Region XI (810 cases), and Region III (355 cases).

Nationally, there were 74 deaths reported, resulting in a case fatality rate of 1.2%. This is higher than the case fatality rate of 0.8% during the same period in the previous year. In an effort to reduce this number, the Health Department has been providing assistance to critical areas to ensure that patients have access to treatment and clean drinking water.

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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