The number of cholera cases reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than doubled last year. The WHO reported in Geneva that a good 470,000 cases were reported in 2022.

The year before there were a good 220,000. However, the overall data situation is still insufficient. The organization previously estimated 1.3 to 4 million cases of illness and up to 143,000 deaths each year.

44 countries report cases of cholera

The WHO has now announced that there were more particularly large outbreaks of diarrheal disease in 2022 than in the previous year. Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria were particularly affected. “The larger the outbreak, the harder it is to bring it under control,” says the WHO. Cholera outbreaks are closely linked to inadequate drinking water supplies, poverty and conflicts.

In total, 44 countries reported cholera cases, 9 more than in the previous year. 2,349 deaths were reported to the WHO. Current data for 2023 suggests that the global increase in cholera numbers continues, the WHO said. Currently, 24 countries state that they currently have outbreaks.

How is cholera caused?

Cholera often follows natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons or floods. Recently, fears were raised that the disease could break out following the flood disaster in Libya. The highly contagious diarrheal disease is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, which produces a poison in the intestines. The main causes are drinking water that is contaminated with feces or vomit from sick people, and contaminated food.

Many infections have no symptoms. But in severe cases, the severe loss of fluid and salt can lead to circulatory collapse, muscle cramps and even shock and death within hours. There are also oral vaccinations against cholera.