Cholera Epidemic Hits Western, Central Africa

“Western and central Africa are facing one of the biggest cholera epidemics in their history, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said last month, in reporting that more than 85,000 cases of cholera have been registered since the beginning of the year, with nearly 2,500 deaths,” according to Le Monde/Guardian. The newspaper writes, “UNICEF has identified three main cholera epidemic outbreaks in the Lake Chad basin, the West Congo basin and Lake Tanganyika,” and “[f]ive countries — Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Chad — account for 90 percent of the reported cases and fatalities.”

“‘The highest rates of contamination are in Chad, Cameroon — where nine out of 10 districts are affected — and western DRC, where the mortality rate is over five percent,’ UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said, adding that the rate is over 22 percent in some regions,” Le Monde/Guardian reports. “These figures are particularly dramatic, given that with appropriate treatment … mortality can be brought down to one percent,” the newspaper notes, adding that a lack of both medical care and public awareness are contributing to high mortality rates and continued spread of the disease (Vincent, 10/25).