The World Health Organization (WHO) reported today a new cholera outbreak in the east African nation of Tanzania where the case count has reached nearly 1,000 since August.
According to the UN health agency, on 25 August, new foci of cholera were identified in Dar es Salaam, Pwani (Coast), Iringa and Morogoro. The cholera outbreak in the Dar es Salaam region began on 15 August, whilst the outbreak in the Morogoro region started on 18 August.
As of 6 September, the cumulative number of cholera cases (both suspected and confirmed) is 971 cases, including 13 deaths. Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of Vibrio cholerae, type O1 Ogawa strain in the affected areas.
Treatment centers have been set up to handle the influx in cholera patients in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro.
In addition, health officials have deployed technical experts to provide assistance with surveillance activities including case finding, water supply and sanitation monitoring, laboratory management and social mobilization interventions.
Cholera, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is an acute bacterial intestinal disease characterized by sudden onset, profuse watery stools (given the appearance as rice water stools because of flecks of mucus in water) due to a very potent enterotoxin. The enterotoxin leads to an extreme loss of fluid and electrolytes in the production of diarrhea. It has been noted that an untreated patient can lose his bodyweight in fluids in hoursresulting in shock and death.
The bacteria are acquired through ingestion of contaminated water or food through a number ofmechanisms. Water is usually contaminated by the feces of infected individuals. Drinking water can be contaminated at the source, during transport or during storage at home. Food can get contaminated by soiled hands, duringpreparation or while eating.
Beverages and ice prepared with contaminated water and fruits and vegetables washed with this water are other examples. Some outbreaks are linked to raw or undercooked seafood.