WHO warns of surging cholera cases, fatality rates worldwide
A World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of surging cases of cholera this year with outbreaks reported in 26 countries and fatality rates rising sharply.
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In a typical year, fewer than 20 countries report outbreaks of the disease, which is spread by the ingestion of contaminated food or water and can cause acute diarrhea.
"After years of declining numbers, we are seeing a very worrying upsurge of cholera outbreaks around the globe over the past year," Philippe Barboza, WHO Team Lead for Cholera, told a press briefing in Geneva.
The average fatality rate, so far this year, has almost tripled compared with the five-year average and is currently around 3 per cent in Africa, he added.
While most of those affected will have mild or no symptoms, cholera can kill within hours, if untreated.
A cholera outbreak in Syria has already killed at least 33 people, posing danger across the frontlines of the war-stricken country stirring fears in crowded camps for the displaced.
Barboza also expressed concern about outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and parts of Asia, including Pakistan, where some regions are flooded.
This is while, according to the official, only a few million doses of vaccines were available for use before the end of this year, citing a shortage of manufacturers among the problems.
"So it's very clear that we do not have enough vaccine to respond to both acute outbreaks and even less to be able to implement preventive vaccination campaigns that could be a way to reduce the risk for many countries," he said.
There was no overall estimate of the number of cholera cases across the world because of differences in countries' surveillance systems, he said.