New cholera strain in Guinea poses prevention challenges

“This discovery of a cholera strain atypical El Tor is worrying, as it confirms the advance of strains that are more severe and more contagious,” said Stanislas Rebaudet, an epidemiologist at the university hospital of Marseilles, France, where the vibrio cholerae strain found in Guinea has been analysed with the support of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “This demands stronger prevention and response efforts.”

Africa – West Africa in particular – is the only region of the world where cholera cases are steadily increasing.

Cholera experts say the strain isolated in Guinea was most likely recently imported, and not lying dormant in the environment. “This tells us then that cholera is not an inevitability in this region,” he told IRIN. He noted that this year’s situation in Sierra Leone and neighbouring Guinea demonstrates the importance of cross-border collaboration.

Scientists are continuing their analyses in a bid to identify the source of the strain, epidemiologist Rebaudet says.

This type of strain was present in Zimbabwe in 2009, in the Lake Chad Basin in 2009, and is found in Haiti currently.

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