CDC releases information on a rise in cholera cases worldwide

November 29, 2022

CDC releases information on a rise in cholera cases worldwide

MOBILE, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has shared information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about a marked rise in cholera infections worldwide.

Since January, large outbreaks have occurred in Haiti, Malawi, and Syria, while a total of 29 countries have reported cases. After more than three years with no cases of cholera reported in Haiti, in October national authorities began reporting confirmed cholera cases spreading across the country. As of November 15, 9,317 suspected cases and 174 deaths have been reported from nine of Haiti’s 10 departments. Medical treatment facilities in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, the outbreak epicenter, are approaching capacity.

A traveler could arrive in the United States with cholera at any time. Although no cases have been reported in the United States in 2022 among travelers returning from Haiti, eight cases have been reported among travelers returning from Pakistan, Iraq, and Bangladesh. Sustained community transmission in the United States is unlikely because of reliable water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructures. Cholera is often not considered as a possible cause of watery diarrhea among returning U.S. travelers, which can result in delayed treatment and death.

“I can’t over-emphasize the importance for a good travel history,” said Dr. Kevin P. Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “We have many community members traveling to see family, to work, and to perform missionary work aboard. Travel brings other risks for the unusual diseases or concerns.”

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. People who develop watery diarrhea within five days after being in any country where cholera is occurring should seek medical care immediately and inform the clinician about their travel history.

The Mobile County Health Departments joins with the CDC and ADPH to recommend cholera vaccinations for people traveling to or living in areas of active cholera transmission. This might include visiting or working in areas experiencing cholera outbreaks or during humanitarian crises. Travelers are encouraged to check CDC’s Travel Health Notices website to identify areas with active cholera transmission and to visit a doctor or travel clinic to talk about vaccination.

To make an appointment with MCHD’s Family Health providers, call 251-690-8889.