Spike in cholera in Cameroon kills 29 in one week

Twenty-nine people have died from cholera in Cameroon in the space of a week, the health minister said on Friday.

Most of the deaths occurred in three cities in the west of the country, which has seen a spike in cases of the water-borne disease.

Cholera is an acute form of diarrhoea that is treatable with antibiotics and hydration but can kill within hours if left untreated.

“We saw a spike in cases of cholera in the Southwest region between March 16 and 22, 2022, with more than 300 cases registered,” Health Minister Manaouda Malachie tweeted.

He said there were “20 deaths in Kumba,… two deaths in Buea,… five deaths in Tiko (and) two deaths in Yaounde”, the capital.

A total of 62 people had died since October 2021 and over the period nearly 2,100 cases had been detected, Malachie wrote, adding that the authorities were coordinating a vaccination campaign and other measures to contain the outbreak.

Outbreaks occur periodically in Cameroon, a west African nation of more than 25 million inhabitants. The last epidemic was between January and August 2020, when 66 people died.

Cholera is caused by a germ that is typically transmitted by poor sanitation. People become infected when they swallow food or water carrying the bug.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in early 2021 there were between 1.3 and four million cases of cholera per year around the world, leading to between 21,000 and 143,000 deaths.