The land-locked West African country of Niger has reported a surge of cholera cases in September, including a number of fatalities in the capital city of Niamey.
According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), it says Niger has seen 1,365 cases since January, including 51 fatalities. However, in September alone, 38 cholera related fatalities have been reported.
AFP reports the spike in the number of cholera deaths was due in part of heavy flooding which has inundated Niger since June.
Steps are being taken “to contain the illness” and “prevent it from appearing in new places,” said OCHA, noting that cholera has broken out in four of Niger’s eight regions.
Of special concern is the southeast region of Diffa where since 2013 some 105,000 people have taken refuge fleeing from the deadly attacks in Nigeria by the Islamist group Boko Haram and the crackdown by the Nigerian army.
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 hours resulting 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, during preparation 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. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page