In a follow-up report on the cholera outbreak in Tanzania, The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) of Tanzania now puts the case count at 9,871 cases, including 150 deaths. This is up from  4,407 cholera cases and 68 deaths in mid-October.

Vibrio cholerae on TCBS/CDC
Vibrio cholerae on TCBS/CDC

Health officials do say that the daily reported cases is declining. However, they do fear that this could change with the upcoming rainy season and the strongest forecasted El Niño event in twenty years.

Dar es Salaam has seen the most cases with 4,482 cases, followed by Tanga (1,398 cases) and Singida (861 cases).

In addition, semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar have reported 425 cases of cholera, including 9 fatalities. The two affected islands, Unguja and Pemba, had reported 223 and 202 cases, respectively.

Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Water is contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person or by untreated sewage. Food may be contaminated by using water containing cholera bacteria or by a person whose hands are contaminated with the cholera bacteria.

Often people have mild illness or no symptoms. However, about one in 20 (5%) infected people will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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