On Wednesday, the World Health Organization confirmed that the situation with cholera in the world is getting worse. Already two dozen countries are currently reporting increasing cases of the disease.
Most cases occur in south-east Africa, with long-term outbreaks continuing in Malawi and Mozambique. According to WHO, new outbreaks have been reported in Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia since January.
Tropical Cyclone Freddie, which hit parts of East Africa in February, only worsened the situation. The hurricane has approached the level equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, and heavy rains, floods and damage to water supply and sewerage systems contribute to further outbreaks of cholera.
Overall, according to WHO, more than 36,000 people have been infected and 1,700 people have died after “an unprecedented increase in the incidence of cholera worldwide” last year.
In many countries reporting outbreaks, there is also a higher mortality rate among those who contract acute diarrheal disease caused by intestinal infection with Vibrio cholerae bacteria.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 10 people with cholera will have severe symptoms. Although the infection can sometimes be severe or life-threatening, it is more often mild or completely asymptomatic.
“Overall capacity to respond to outbreaks remains limited due to a global shortage of resources, including a shortage of oral cholera vaccine, as well as an overload of public health and medical personnel who are dealing with multiple outbreaks of diseases simultaneously. Based on the current situation, WHO assesses the risk of the spread of cholera at the global level as very high,” WHO said on Wednesday.