Cholera diarrhea by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
April 6 2015


Cholera, an acute diarrheal illness caused by a water-borne bacterium, is a seasonal problem in much of West Africa. Cholera is an intestinal infection spread by contaminated water or food. It causes vomiting and acute diarrhea that can lead to dehydration and death within 24 hours. Cholera bacteria spread through contact with feces and are associated with heavy rains that flood latrines and contaminate drinking water. Cholera can kill within 24 hours by inducing vomiting and diarrhea that cause severe dehydration and shock, but it is easily treatable with a mixture of water and rehydration salts.

Cholera in Angola

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Angola had reported 46,758 cases of cholera, including 1893 deaths, as of June, 2006. The outbreak has affected 14 of 18 provinces, but nearly half the cases were reported in the coastal capital, Luanda, and another 17 percent in Benguela provinces. The overall case fatality rate is about 4 percent, although in some provinces, it has reached 30 percent. This outbreak represents another in a series of cholera epidemics in this country which is among the poorest in the world.


Cholera in Cameroon
November 2006 - A cholera outbreak has killed at least 28 people in Cameroon's Far North province neighboring Lake Chad. Health authorities blame the outbreak on living conditions and lack of clean drinking water which forced people to fetch water from polluted sources.

Cholera in Guinea

A cholera outbreak has killed more than 200 people in Guinea in 2006. The outbreak has hit the southern town of Gueckedou worst. The former French colony on Africa's Atlantic coast has one third of the world's known reserves of bauxite, the raw material used to make aluminum. But the majority of its 10 million people live in poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day.


Cholera is rampant across Sudan, with nearly 25,000 cases and more than 700 deaths recorded by August of 2006, and the epidemic threatens neighboring Chad. Cholera has broken out in most states of Sudan, including North and South Darfur, but the toll does not include West Darfur where agencies have little access due to insecurity. The water-borne disease could easily spread to Chad, where more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur are staying in crowded camps near Abeche.


Mass cholera vaccination finally possible. Vogel L.CMAJ. 2015