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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Cholera in Africa

06 Oct 2017

On 29 September 2017 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported cholera outbreaks are continuing across the African continent.

Angola reported 468 cases (21 deaths) from 13 December2016 to 6 August 2017. Cases have been reported in Cabinda (236 cases), Soyo (227 cases) and Luanda (5 cases).  Transmission appears to have slowed down greatly since late July 2017.

Burundi reported 38 cases (no deaths) from 20 August to 26 September 2017.  Four districts are involved: Nyanza-Lac (27 cases), Cibitoke (1 cases), Bubanza (1 cases) and Mpanda (9 cases).

Chad reported 445 cases (56 deaths) from 14 August to 25 September 2017 with active transmission occurring in Salamat Sila regions.

Democratic Republic of the Congo has reported  31 646 cases  (629 deaths)  from 1 Jan to 29 September 2017. The incidence of new cases is increasing. In the week to 23 September 2017, 2 134 new suspected cases (25 deaths) were reported. Most of these cases were in South Kivu, North Kivu, Haut-Lomami and Tanganyika provinces.

Kenya has reported 2 996 cases (55 deaths) from 1 January to 28 Sep 2017. Marsabit county (338 cases) still has active transmission while the outbreak is under control in Wajir county (119 cases) .

Nigeria  reported 7 052 cases (149 deaths)  from 1 January to 18 September 2017 Outbreaks have occurred in  Borno, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano, Lagos, Oyo, Kwara and Kaduna States. The largest outbreak has been in Borno State which has has reported 4292 cases (including 59 deaths)

Somalia reported in August 2017 that the outbreak that began in November 2016 appeared to be coming to an end.

South Sudan reported 20 568 cases (378 deaths) from 18 June to 24 Sep 20-17. The weekly number of cases is declining.

Tanzania reported 3 075 cases (50 deaths) from 1 January to 24 September 2017 although the trend is gradually declining. In the month to 29 September 2017, Mbeya Region (261 case)  had the most intense transmission followed by Tanga (123 cases), Kigoma (56 cases), Songwe (39 cases), Njombe (10 cases), Katavi (6 cases) and Iringa (2 cases). Zanzibar has reported 358 cases including 4 deaths in 2017, but has reported no new cases since 11 July 2017.

Uganda reported 29 cases (2 deaths) from 25 September to 29 September 2017 Kasese District, Western Uganda. Cases were reported from 6 villages: Katholhu (14 cases), Nyakirango (6 cases), Bunyiswa (6 cases), Rusese (1 case), Nyakahya (1 case), and Kitaturwa(1 case), but all were linked to Katholhu village.

Advice to Travellers

Prevention is focused on ensuring safe water and food, particularly in countries where cholera is more common or where outbreaks occur (see individual country record). Food and drink to be wary of include untreated water, ice, shellfish, salads, unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Good personal hygiene is essential. Individuals should ensure that they wash their hands frequently, prior to eating and after visiting the bathroom.

A vaccine is available to protect against cholera but as the risk to most travellers is very low, it is only recommended in the following circumstances:

  • Volunteers/aid workers/medical personnel in disaster relief situations where cholera outbreaks likely.
  • Those travelling to work in slums/refugee camps, areas affected by natural disasters, or countries experiencing cholera outbreaks and where care with food and water is difficult or not possible.

For further information see Cholera