Sunday, April 27, 2008

'Politically Correct' Cholera

Cholera is certainly in the news lately. There is, of course, the major outbreak which has caused almost 2,500 illnesses in Vietnam since early March. In addition The Times (South Africa) reported last week that two people died as a result of cholera in Tanzania, and China View carried a headline stating that six Filipinos living in Malaysia were admitted to hospital suffering from cholera.

As I was browsing the weekly "Cholera, Diarrhea and Dysentery Update" prepared by the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), I came across a curious statement, which read, "Acute watery diarrhea is often used as a "politically correct" term for cholera."

On that note, here is a capsule summary of the weekly toll of cholera – both the "politically correct" and the incorrect types.

Central Equatoria, Sudan
Cholera has become endemic in this southern Sudan state, and has increased significantly in the past two years. Between March 12th and April 5th, the Yei Civil Hospital has reported 118 cases of cholera or acute watery diarrhea.

Hiraan, Somalia
Medical sources in this part of Somalia are reporting 135 cases of 'politically correct' cholera, with at least 7 confirmed dead.

Gombe, Nigeria
A diagnosis of cholera was reported when 116 female students fell ill. The secondary school students, who attend a boarding school, complained of vomiting and diarrhea after eating a lunch that included some contaminated beans. ISID comments that the reported incubation period and symptoms are not typical of cholera.

Rukwa, Tanzania
In addition to the two deaths reported by The Times, three other people are still undergoing treatment for cholera.

Siraha, Nepal
This district of eastern Nepal has been seeing approximately 25 new cases of diarrhea per day since the onset of a "scorching hot" weather spell. The outbreak is blamed on poor sanitary conditions.

As I reported previously, the current toll is 2,490 illnesses in 20 provinces and cities, mostly in northern Vietnam.

There will most assuredly be more to come, as the monsoon season gets underway in various parts of south and southeast Asia.

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