Cholera Outbreak Likely to Worsen in Lake Chad Basin

Sep 23, 2011 | Amy L. Sonricker Hansen | Outbreak News

For the past year Chad has been fighting an outbreak of cholera. The country has recorded 12,713 cases and 364 deaths due to cholera this year. The districts of N’Djamena, Massakory, Bongor, and Mongo have been most affected. If the outbreak continues to worsen, Chad may be on track to experience its worst cholera epidemic to date.

With the rainy season now at its peak, the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) recently stated that the number of cases could double, reaching over 25,000 by the end of October without an international response. Heavy rains and flooding typically exacerbate cholera outbreaks by providing ideal conditions for more water sources to become contaminated by the bacteria.

Humanitarian organizations suggest that a joint, cross-border effort is needed to combat cholera, as the neighboring nations of Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria are also experiencing outbreaks. In the Lake Chad Basin population movement is constant, as the region is a hub of commerce, fishing and farming activities. This large movement of people also contributes to the spread of disease throughout the region. Of particular concern are the overpopulated refugee camps along Chad’s border with Sudan. 

Cholera outbreaks are a continuous threat to developing countries where adequate sanitation and safe drinking water are not guaranteed. If treatment is not promptly received, infected individuals may die of dehydration, some in a matter of hours. Cholera outbreak control efforts typically include ensuring prompt access to treatment in order to reduce deaths, providing safe drinking water and sanitation and health education aimed at preventing the spread of disease.

In a statement by the IFRC released on September 22, 38,000 cases and 1,200 deaths have been recorded throughout the Lake Chad Basin. The Red Cross is working with partner organizations to provide support in management of cases throughout the region.

 

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