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Frontiers of Medicine >> 2019, Volume 13, Issue 2 doi: 10.1007/s11684-018-0631-2

Cholera: an overview with reference to the Yemen epidemic

Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia

Accepted: 2018-06-21 Available online: 2018-06-21

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Cholera is a secretory diarrhoeal disease caused by infection with , primarily the O1 El Tor biotype. There are approximately 2.9 million cases in 69 endemic countries annually, resulting in 95 000 deaths. Cholera is associated with poor infrastructure and lack of access to sanitation and clean drinking water. The current cholera epidemic in Yemen, linked to spread of O1 (Ogawa serotype), is associated with the ongoing war. This has devastated infrastructure and health services. The World Health Organization had estimated that 172 286 suspected cases arose between 27th April and 19th June 2017, including 1170 deaths. While there are three oral cholera vaccines prequalified by the World Health Organization, there are issues surrounding vaccination campaigns in conflict situations, exacerbated by external factors such as a global vaccine shortage. Major movements of people complicates surveillance and administration of double doses of vaccines. Cholera therapy mainly depends on rehydration, with use of antibiotics in more severe infections. Concerns have arisen about the rise of antibiotic resistance in cholera, due to mobile genetic elements. In this review, we give an overview of cholera epidemiology, virulence, antibiotic resistance, therapy and vaccines, in the light of the ongoing epidemic in Yemen.

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