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BMC Infect Dis. 2019 Jan 3;19(1):4. doi: 10.1186/s12879-018-3640-5.

Epidemiological description of a protracted cholera outbreak in Tonj East and Tonj North counties, former Warrap State, South Sudan, May-Oct 2017.

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World Health Organization Warrap Hub, Juba, South Sudan.
World Health Organization Warrap Hub, Juba, South Sudan.
Ministry of Health, Ministry Complex, Juba, South Sudan.
Ministry of Health, Kampala, Uganda.
Ministry of Health, Public Health Laboratory, Juba, South Sudan.
World Health Organization Country Office, Juba, South Sudan.



On 18th May 2017, State Ministry of Health of former Warrap State received a report from Tonj East County of an outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea and vomiting in Makuac payam. We conducted this investigation to confirm the causative organism and describe the epidemiology of the outbreak in order to support evidence-based control measures.


We defined a suspected case as a resident of Tonj East or Tonj North County with sudden onset of acute watery diarrhoea and vomiting between May 1 and October 15, 2017. A probable case was defined as a suspected case with a positive rapid test for Vibrio cholerae; a confirmed case was a probable case with a positive stool culture for V. cholerae. We conducted systematic case finding by visiting health facilities and villages in the affected payams. We reviewed patient records from 1 May 2017 to 15 October 2017, to identify suspected cholera case-patients. We conducted a descriptive epidemiologic study, examining the distribution of the cases. We computed the attack rates by age, sex, and payam of residence. Case fatality rate was calculated as the ratio of the total number of suspected cholera death to the total number of cholera case-patients. We conducted an oral cholera vaccination campaign after the peak of the outbreak to control and prevent the spread to other payams.


We identified 1451 suspected cholera cases between May and October 2017. Of these, 81% (21/26) had a positive rapid diagnostic test for V. cholerae; out of the 16 rectal swabs transported to the National Public Laboratory, 88% (14/16) were confirmed to be V. cholerae O1 serotype Inaba. The epidemic curve shows continuous common source outbreak with several peaks. The mean age of the case-patients was 24 years (Range: 0.2-75y). The clinical presentations of the case-patients were consistent with cholera. Males had an attack rate of 9.9/10000. The highest attack rate was in ≥30y (14 per 10,000). Among the six payams affected, Makuac had the highest attack rate of 3/100. The case fatality rate (CFR) was 3.0% (44/1451). Paliang and Wunlit had an oral cholera vaccination coverage of ≥100%, while 4 payams had a vaccination coverage of < 90%.


This was a continuous common source cholera outbreak caused by V. cholerae 01 sero type Inaba. We recommended strengthening of the surveillance system to improve early detection and effective response.


Cholera; Oral cholera vaccination; Outbreak; South Sudan

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