Zimbabwe: the cholera epidemic has claimed over 300 lives since February

« Since the start of the epidemic and up to January 5, 2024, 15,571 cumulative cases of cholera, 67 confirmed deaths and 280 suspected deaths have been reported in 57 of the 63 districts in the ten provinces, » confirmed UNICEF in its latest humanitarian report dedicated to cholera in this southern African country.

According to the UN agency, an upsurge in cholera cases was observed during the holiday season, exacerbated by population movements over the festive period and the start of the rainy season.

Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) published in December showed that between February and November 2023, 191 deaths and over 7,000 cases had been recorded in the country.

An acute diarrheal infection caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae bacteria, cholera is on the rise again across the continent, particularly in southern Africa, but also in certain areas of the Horn of Africa.

Note that the number of reported cholera cases has exceeded the 10,730 cases recorded during the 2018-2019 cholera epidemic. This raises fears of a situation similar to that of the major 2008-2009 epidemic, which claimed more than 4,000 lives.

« In the most likely scenario, WHO and UNICEF estimate that an attack rate of 0.3 will result in 38,763 cases by February 2024, if current interventions fail to stop transmission, noting that cholera attack rates are generally higher in urban and peri-urban areas than in rural settings, » the UN agencies informed.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection, the severe form of which is characterized by extreme watery diarrhea and potentially fatal dehydration. The infection is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

Keneth Ononga

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