Cholera Cases Increase in Mozambique

Within the last year, there have been spates of cholera outbreaks in multiple countries across the globe; over the past few months, these outbreaks have touched at least 22 different countries. In fact, within January 2023 alone, more than 26,000 cholera cases were reported in Africa. By the time of this article, there are over 40,000 cases and counting. These rising cases result from a number of factors—overburdened healthcare systems, poor sanitation infrastructure, a lack of vaccines, climate issues causing problems with the water supply. Unfortunately, those affected are at significant risk of harm; anywhere from 21,000-145,000 people die from cholera each year and, given the state of the current outbreaks, a higher number seems potentially likely. 

According to reporting by Reuters, Malawi, located in southeastern Africa, has been battling the deadliest cholera outbreak in the country’s history. However, Reuters shares that the country has partially controlled the outbreak; cases and related deaths have been falling. But as these cases decline, Mozambique—located to the south of Malawi—is becoming harder hit. 

In an attempt to prevent the continued spread, Mozambique asked for 1.3 million additional cholera vaccines to be delivered to the country. While this request was approved, the larger vaccine shortage may cause issues. 

What is Cholera?

Vibrio cholerae (V. cholerae) bacteria causes cholera, an acute diarrheal illness characterized by intestinal infection. It is often spread through contaminated drinking water, contaminated food, or the feces of someone infected. As a result, this illness most often occurs in areas with poor sanitation or sewage systems. People with low stomach acids or type O blood are also more likely to develop cholera, although doctors are not entirely clear why. Symptoms typically appear within five days of infection and may include:

  • Mild-to-moderate diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration

About 10% of those affected develop severe and life-threatening symptoms such as:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Leg cramps
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Sunken eyes
  • Severe dehydration (which may cause a loss of 10% body weight or more)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst 

Severe dehydration is considered a medical emergency. If you suspect that you have been exposed to cholera, or are showing the above symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Antibiotics, rehydration solution, and IV fluid replacement may all be given as treatments. 

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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