UN Says Cholera Cases Are Decreasing In West, Central Africa

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Central and West Africa Cholera case decline according to CDC (Photo credit: WHO)

Cholera cases in West and Central Africa declined in 2021, compared to the last four years (2017-2020). The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said this on Tuesday. In a report, the UNICEF said that the case-fatality rate (4.55%) in 2021 remains the highest of the last four years, with a particular focus in Cameroon where the fatality rate of Cholera cases is 75%.

Over the past four years, the number of cholera cases has been declining from 65,537 cases in 2017; to 63,602 in 2018, 34,957 in 2019, and 23,628 in 2020, in the West and Central African region. The Congo River Basin with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (19,755 cases and 323 deaths) had the largest outbreak in the area in 2020. Nevertheless, the case-fatality rate in the continent remains above 1%.

Despite the decrease of cases in Africa, the Lake Chad basin between Cameroon and Nigeria still have persistent outbreaks. According to the UN report, the former has 1,890 cases, including 80 deaths, and the latter 1,577 cases including 86 deaths. Also, the widespread epidemic in Benin and the Gulf of Guinea basin has been under control since last year, but a new outbreak began in Togo with a total of 67 cases and two deaths within a week.

A Threat To Public Health In Africa

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by eating or drinking food and water contaminated by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cholera remains a global threat to public health. It kills both children and adults within a few hours if not treated immediately, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been the most affected by Cholera epidemics in the last five years with 99% of notified cases in 2017, 96% in 2018, 96% in 2019, and 85% in 2020, and 88% in 2021. According to the UN agency, the situation in the Central African country is gradually improving since 2019. The UNICEF said,

“Between 2020 and 2021, the country recorded its most reported cases decrease at week 8, passing from 4,530 cases to 1,350 with a reduction of 70.20%.”

Five Basic Cholera Prevention Tips According to the CDC

According to the CDC, if you live or visit an area where Cholera has occurred or is occurring, here are preventive measures to take.

#1: Drink and use safe water to brush your teeth, wash, and prepare food

The CDC says it is safe to drink and use bottled water with unbroken seals and canned or bottled drinks. If boiled water is not available, use chlorinated or filtered water. However, boiling is the best way to make water safe. Also, clean food preparation areas and kitchenware with soap and safe water and let them dry completely before reuse.

#2: Wash your hands more often with soap and safe water

Before, during, and after preparing your food, ensure you wash your hands with soap and safe water. The CDC advises the same after using latrine or toilet, and before and after caring for someone with Cholera.

#3: Use latrines

Ensure you use latrines and sanitation systems like chemical toilets, to dispose of poop. Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet. Also, clean restrooms and surfaces contaminated with poop using a solution of 1-part household bleach to 9 parts water.

#4: Cook your food well (especially seafood), keep it covered, and eat it hot

According to the CDC, ensure you cook seafood like crabs and crayfish until they are hot. Avoid raw foods other than fruits and vegetables that you have peeled yourself.

#5: Clean up safely in the kitchen

Wash areas where you cook and places where the family bathes and washes clothes.

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