Title

Cholera in Africa: lessons on transmission and control for Latin America

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

9-28-1991

Journal

The Lancet

Volume

338

Issue

8770

DOI

10.1016/0140-6736(91)90673-D

Abstract

In January, 1991, epidemic cholera emerged in Peru and spread to 7 other countries of Latin America. Cholera was introduced 20 years ago to Africa, where it spread rapidly to 30 of the 46 countries of the region and by 1990 accounted for 90% of all cases reported to the World Health Organisation. Many lessons from the cholera epidemic in Africa are relevant to efforts to control the disease in Latin America. Public health practices from the past- quarantine and cordon sanitaire to halt introduction of cholera by travellers, and vaccination and mass chemoprohylaxis to control epidemics-are ineffective in preventing spread of the disease. Cholera can be transmitted not only by contaminated water but also by food. Social phenomena such as mass migrations and burial practices may play a greater role than previously understood. While efforts to prevent the spread of cholera have been ineffective, cholera-associated mortality can be decreased with rehydration therapy. Since the current pandemic is unlikely to retreat soon, new strategies are urgently needed to control the spread of cholera through sanitary and behavioural interventions or improved vaccines. © 1991.

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