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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. Jan 2011; 5(1): e1006.
Published online Jan 25, 2011. doi:  10.1371/journal.pntd.0001006
PMCID: PMC3026769

Use of Oral Cholera Vaccines in an Outbreak in Vietnam: A Case Control Study

Edward Ryan, Editor



Killed oral cholera vaccines (OCVs) are available but not used routinely for cholera control except in Vietnam, which produces its own vaccine. In 2007–2008, unprecedented cholera outbreaks occurred in the capital, Hanoi, prompting immunization in two districts. In an outbreak investigation, we assessed the effectiveness of killed OCV use after a cholera outbreak began.

Methodology/Principal Findings

From 16 to 28 January 2008, vaccination campaigns with the Vietnamese killed OCV were held in two districts of Hanoi. No cholera cases were detected from 5 February to 4 March 2008, after which cases were again identified. Beginning 8 April 2008, residents of four districts of Hanoi admitted to one of five hospitals for acute diarrhea with onset after 5 March 2008 were recruited for a matched, hospital-based, case-control outbreak investigation. Cases were matched by hospital, admission date, district, gender, and age to controls admitted for non-diarrheal conditions. Subjects from the two vaccinated districts were evaluated to determine vaccine effectiveness. 54 case-control pairs from the vaccinated districts were included in the analysis. There were 8 (15%) and 16 (30%) vaccine recipients among cases and controls, respectively. The vaccine was 76% protective against cholera in this setting (95% CI 5% to 94%, P = 0.042) after adjusting for intake of dog meat or raw vegetables and not drinking boiled or bottled water most of the time.


This is the first study to explore the effectiveness of the reactive use of killed OCVs during a cholera outbreak. Our findings suggest that killed OCVs may have a role in controlling cholera outbreaks.

Author Summary

Simple measures such as adequate sanitation and clean water stops the spread of cholera; however, in areas where these are not available, cholera spreads quickly and may lead to death in a few hours if treatment is not initiated immediately. The use of life-saving rehydration therapy is the mainstay in cholera control, however, the rapidity of the disease and the limited access to appropriate healthcare units in far-flung areas together result in an unacceptable number of deaths. The WHO has recommended the use of oral cholera vaccines as a preventive measure against cholera outbreaks since 2001, but this was recently updated so that vaccine use may also be considered once a cholera outbreak has begun. The findings from this study suggest that reactive use of killed oral cholera vaccines provides protection against the disease and may be a potential tool in times of outbreaks. Further studies must be conducted to confirm these findings.

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