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Cholera: ancient scourge on the rise. WHO announces global plan for cholera control. (25 April 1991).
WHO FEATURES. 1991 Apr; (154):1-3.Vibrio cholerae spreads quickly via contaminated water and food, especially in areas with a poor health and sanitation infrastructure. Its enterotoxin induces vomiting and huge amounts of watery diarrhea leading to severe dehydration. 80-90% of cholera victims during an epidemic can use oral rehydration salts. A cholera epidemic is now spreading through Latin America threatening 90-120 million people (started in January 1991), particularly those in urban slums and rural/mountainous areas. As of mid April 1991, there were more than 177,000 new reported cases in 12 countries and 78% of these cases and more than 1200 deaths were limited to 5 countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, WHO's Global Cholera Control Task Force coordinates global cholera control efforts to prevent deaths in the short term and to support infrastructure development in the long term. Its members are specialists in disease surveillance, case management, water and sanitation, food safety, emergency intervention, and information and education. WHO's Director General is asking for the support of the international community in cholera control activities. These activities' costs are considerable. For example, Peru needs about US$ 60 million in 1992 to fulfill only the most immediate demands of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the infrastructure. Costs of infrastructure capital throughout Latin America is almost US$ 5 thousand million/year over the next 10 years. It is indeed an effective infrastructure which ultimately prevents cholera. Cholera is evidence of inadequate development, so to fight it, we must also fight underdevelopment and poverty.