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J Infect Dis. 2013 Nov 1;208 Suppl 1:S46-54. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit195.

Environmental determinants of cholera outbreaks in inland Africa: a systematic review of main transmission foci and propagation routes.

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Aix-Marseille University, UMR MD 3, Marseilles.


Cholera is generally regarded as the prototypical waterborne and environmental disease. In Africa, available studies are scarce, and the relevance of this disease paradigm is questionable. Cholera outbreaks have been repeatedly reported far from the coasts: from 2009 through 2011, three-quarters of all cholera cases in Africa occurred in inland regions. Such outbreaks are either influenced by rainfall and subsequent floods or by drought- and water-induced stress. Their concurrence with global climatic events has also been observed. In lakes and rivers, aquatic reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae have been evocated. However, the role of these reservoirs in cholera epidemiology has not been established. Starting from inland cholera-endemic areas, epidemics burst and spread to various environments, including crowded slums and refugee camps. Human displacements constitute a major determinant of this spread. Further studies are urgently needed to better understand these complex dynamics, improve water and sanitation efforts, and eliminate cholera from Africa.


Africa; Vibrio cholerae; cholera; cities; environment; epidemiology; lakes; reservoirs; seasons

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