Floods increase risk of African cholera cases, says WHO Africa director

Heavy flooding due to seasonal rains and tropical cyclones in southern Africa risk fuelling the spread of cholera, the Wolrd health Organization Regional director for Africa said Thursday, March 2.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti added that the weekly cholera cases in affected African countries declined.

The WHO is reinforcing support to increase disease detection capacity and provides medical supplies in regions at risk of flooding.

New cholera cases fell to 2880 in the week ending on 26 February, a 37% decline compared with the week before when 4584 cases were recorded. Deaths remained nearly unchanged, declining marginally from 82 to 81 in the same period.

Twelve African countries are currently reporting cases, with South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe the latest to detect cholera.

Cholera is contracted from a bacterium generally transmitted through contaminated food or water. It causes diarrhea and vomiting.

In Malawi, which is experiencing its worst-ever cholera outbreak, impassaible roads due to increased rainfall is slowing outbreak control efforts in some areas.

Mozambique is facing a cholera outbreak that has affected six of its 11 provinces. And after clyone Freddy hit, the risk of spread is high. Cholera vaccination is currently taking place.

In Madagascar, which last reported cholera in 2000, recent cyclones, particularly Cyclone Cheneso that hit the country in January, have caused widespread flooding

The floods have led to an upsurge in malaria cases and increased the risk of cholera outbreaks.

Last week, the WHO cholera team leader Philippe Barboza drew attention to the limited availability of vaccines, medicines, and testing kits worldwide.

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