Ronald J. Waldman | Eric D. Mintz | Heather E. Papowitz
Date of Publication:
New England Journal of Medicine
Whenever epidemics of cholera occur, the global public health community is energized. Experts meet, guidelines for control are reviewed and reissued, and new and modified interventions are proposed and promoted. In the past two decades, these things happened after cholera appeared in Latin America in 1991, in the wake of the Rwandan genocide and the ensuing refugee crisis in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1994, in Zimbabwe in 2008, and in October 2010, at the onset of the ongoing epidemic in Haiti (see article by Barzilay et al.). But even when it is not covered in the news or noticed by the public, cholera occurs regularly in the developing world, and the annual number of cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) has increased over the past few years to more than half a million cases and 7816 related deaths reported from all regions in 2011. Moreover, these reported numbers grossly underestimate the actual global burden of cholera: the WHO estimates that 3 million to 5 million cases and 100,000 to 200,000 deaths due to cholera occur annually. Read the article.