The World Health Organization released a report on 02-May-2000 of a cholera epidemic sweeping through Somalia. From 01-January-2000, 2,232 cases of cholera and 230 deaths have been reported. Cases have been confirmed in Bay, Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, Mogadishu and Mudug.
Cholera control in Somalia is difficult and complex--a result of problems with security, accessibility and drought. In areas where international teams are present, the fatality rate is lower due to case management strategies.
Most cholera infections are mild; patients may have no symptoms or only
mild diarrhea. In a minority of cases, however, there is rapid onset of
severe watery diarrhoea and vomiting, resulting in the loss of large amounts
of fluid and electrolytes from the body. Patients become thirsty, stop
urinating, and quickly become weak and dehydrated. Patients with severe
cholera often complain of cramps in the stomach, arms, or legs.
All cases of cholera should be treated immediately. If treatment is
delayed or inadequate, death from dehydration and circulatory collapse
may follow very shortly.
There are more than 60 serogroups of Vibrio cholerae, but only
serogroup O1 causes cholera. Vibrio cholerae O1 occurs as two biotypes
- classical and El Tor. Each biotype also occurs as two serotypes - Ogawa
and Inaba. The El Tor biotype has caused almost all of the recent cholera
outbreaks, although cases caused by the classical biotype still occur on
the Indian subcontinent. The El Tor biotype also causes a higher proportion
of asymptomatic infections than the classical biotype and survives longer
in the environment. It can live in association with certain aquatic plants
and animals, making water an important reservoir for infection.
Cholera is acquired by the ingestion of an infectious dose of cholera
vibrios. Faecally contaminated water is usually the vehicle for transmission
of infection, either directly or through the contamination of food. Food
may also be contaminated by the soiled hands of infected persons.
The Cholera Task Force collects and compiles data and provides supplies, training and support. Agencies that are a part of the task force include Unicef, Action internationale contre la faim, International Medical corps, Médecins sans frontières, the coordinating Committee of the Organization for Voluntary Services and the Somali Red Crescent Society.