The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in a Disease Outbreak News report Tuesday that Benin reported its first epidemic wave of cholera between March and April, in the commune of So-Ava, Atlantique Department, with 103 cases including three laboratory-confirmed cases and no deaths.
A second epidemic wave began in September 2021, with 1430 cases and 20 deaths (CFR: 1.4 %) reported from 1 September 2021 to 16 January 2022. Of these, stool culture performed on 41 samples at the National Laboratory, Benin, were confirmed as Vibrio cholerae O1 serogroup.
Cases have been reported from nine departments in Benin including Alibori, Atacora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Donga, Littoral, Mono and Oueme.
Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of V. cholerae bacteria in contaminated water or food. It is mainly linked to insufficient access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. It is a potentially serious infectious disease that can cause high morbidity and mortality, which can spread rapidly, depending on the frequency of exposure, the exposed population and the setting.
Cholera is endemic in Benin and since 2016, cases continue to be reported every year in various departments across the country. The Parakou district in Borgou department is the epicenter of the current outbreak with high commercial traffic to Cotonou, the capital of Benin.
The main factors attributed to the initiation and ongoing spread of the cholera epidemics in Benin include:
- Inadequate hygiene and sanitation
- The lack of public hygiene infrastructure
- Limited supply of safe drinking water
- Open defecation
- The poor practice of hand washing.
Additionally, Benin shares international borders with Nigeria and Togo, and there is frequent and substantial cross-border population movement. This poses a risk of cross-border transmission of cholera.
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