Published Date: 2011-05-02 14:38:27
Subject: PRO/EAFR> Cholera - Cameroon: nationwide update
Archive Number: 20110502.221659
CHOLERA - CAMEROON: NATIONWIDE UPDATE
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sun 1 May 2011
Source: AlertNet [edited]
A deadly cholera outbreak in Cameroon could infect up to 10 000, warns children's charity Plan International. Cases in the worst affected central region of the West African country rose by 50 per cent in just one week.
Overstretched clinics have run out of beds, with weak patients treated on wooden benches. "It's important that we deal with the immediate crisis but also long-term needs," says Plan's disaster response coordinator Dr Unni Krishnan.
Nearly 4600 cases have been reported nationwide, with 156 deaths. Health experts fear cases of the highly infectious waterborne disease may rise further with the start of the rainy season next month [June 2011].
Cases in the central region went from 1001 to 1564 in a week and now stand at 1859, claiming 73 lives. "There is a sense of urgency with cholera," says Dr Krishnan. "After an earthquake, you can take years to clear rubble, but with cholera, it's a race against time. What you do and what you don't do have a direct impact on saving lives; an appropriate response is absolutely crucial."
Plan is deploying a specialist team to Cameroon and has already launched a GBP 120 000 [USD 200 500] response. Initial work has included providing clean water and disinfectant kits containing bleaches and sprays to 600 volunteers. The charity will also work on school latrines and hygiene training for teachers in a bid to halt the spread of the disease.
Plan also worked with the Cameroon government during the country's last cholera outbreak in September  that claimed 200 lives. "Dealing with cholera is not rocket science," says Dr Krishnan. "Good hygiene and public health messages can go a long way to reduce deaths. Children are particularly vulnerable," adds Dr Krishnan. "Yet simple measures can save lives."
[Cholera is once again ravaging Cameroon following the devastating outbreak reported last year . The current trends indicate that the outbreak could escalate if a comprehensive response is not initiated in time to address the inadequacies in access to safe water, sanitation facilities as well as personal and food hygiene. The National authorities, therefore, need to work together to initiate a coordinated response to control the current outbreak.
An interactive map showing the regions of Cameroon can be accessed athttp://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/africa/cameroon_pol98.jpg. The HealthMap/ProMED mail interactive map of Cameroon can be accessed athttp://healthmap.org/r/05Xt. - Mod.JFW]