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Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases

Cholera bacteria. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A brief guide to the causes, treatment and prevention of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases.

Diarrhoeal diseases

  • Diarrhoeal diseases are the second leading cause of death of children under five years of age.
  • Each year diarrhoea kills around 500,000 children under five years of age.
  • Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease every year.
  • Diarrhoea kills around 1,400 children every day – more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.
  • Diarrhoeal diseases  were responsible for an estimated 1.3 million deaths in 2013, including 45,000 neonatal deaths.                                 

Cholera

  • Cholera is caused by infection with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
  • There are estimated to be between 1.4 and 4.3 million cases of cholera every year.
  • An estimated 28,000 to 142,000 peopledie of cholera every year.
  • The Global Burden of Disease 2013 study estimated that cholera caused 70,000 deaths in 2013, including 45,000 deaths of children.
  • Most cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution (ORS); zinc treatment is also recommended by the WHO.
  • An affordable oral cholera vaccine, Shanchol, has been shown to provide high levels of protection in settings where cholera is endemic.

Other causes of diarrhoeal diseases

  • Rotavirus is responsible for about 40% of hospitalisations for diarrhoea in children under five years of age.
  • Rotavirus causes around 215,000 deaths of children under five years of age every year.
  • Other common bacterial causes of diarrhoeal disease include Campylobacter, E. coli, non-typhoidal Salmonella and Shigella.
  • Common parasitic causes of diarrhoeal disease include Cryptosporidium, Entamoebahistolytica and Giardia lamblia.

Mortality estimates from Global Burden of Disease 2013 study

  Children <5 Total
Adenovirus 18,300 31,800
Campylobacter 9,500 14,100
Cryptosporidium 35,200 41,900
Enterotoxigenic E.coli 23,100 59,200
Rotavirus 122,400 176,600
Salmonella 3,800 24,300
Shigella 33,400 73,900

Sources

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs330/en/

http://www.who.int/topics/diarrhoea/en/

http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/diarrhea-burden.html

http://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/estimates/rotavirus/en/

Mokdad AH et al. Global burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors for young people's health during 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet. 2016; 387(10036) : 2383–401.

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