Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Molecular Characterization of the Circulating Strains of Vibrio Cholerae during 2010 Cholera Outbreak in Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Molecular Characterization of the Circulating Strains of Vibrio Cholerae during 2010 Cholera Outbreak in Nigeria

Article excerpt


Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of cholera. It is acquired by consuming food or water contaminated with V. cholerae; strains belonging to O1 and O139 serogroups are agents of endemic and pandemic cholera, a potentially life-threatening diarrhoea that produces characteristic rice-water stool. It is a major problem in the developing countries and has been linked to poverty and poor sanitation (1,2).

Epidemiologically, cholera most often occurs in explosive outbreaks throughout several regions simultaneously. Pandemics of cholera have followed progressive patterns, affecting many countries across the continent and over many years (3,4).

Epidemic V. cholerae are classified into two serogroups O1 and O139 as well as two biotypes El Tor and Classical. The ongoing seventh pandemic is due to V. cholerae serogroup O1 biotype El Tor. There are also two serotypes of epidemic cholera, Ogawa and Inaba (5,6).

Between 1995 and 2005, a total of 632 cholera outbreaks were reported worldwide; 66.0% of the total cases and 87.6% of fatal cases were reported from sub-Saharan Africa (7). The World Health Organization (WHO) annual figures on global cholera incidence, which are based on official cases reported by affected countries, are believed to be underestimated due to limitations relating to a lack of adequate surveillance systems (8). In addition, the actual number of cholera cases globally is estimated to be much higher than officially reported (8) because outbreaks are often not reported to avoid the risk of travel and trade embargos on the affected country. According to WHO, only five countries (Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC], Ghana, and Tanzania) have reported cases of cholera every year since 1990 (9). Prompt and accurate diagnosis of V. cholerae, therefore, remains a key step in cholera outbreak surveillance, which can greatly influence rapid intervention and prevention to minimize spread of disease and mortality.

Due to inadequate disease notification system in the country, it is believed that most cases of cholera are not reported due to poor surveillance systems. Fatality rates are 5% of total cases in Africa and less than 1% elsewhere (10).

Cholera exists as a seasonal disease in Nigeria, occurring annually mostly during rainy seasons. In most of the affected areas, cholera looks endemic since the cases occur round the year but with different magnitudes. It may occur in southern part of the state and later shift to the northern part. The disease is more pronounced in the border areas of the affected states, and the reason is attributed to migration of the population and personal hygiene of the affected people.

In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health reported 37,289 cases and 1,434 deaths between January and October 2010 (11). Reported cases almost tripled compared to those of 2009, and 80% were women and children.

In 2010, cholera outbreak had been more widespread and deadly than in almost 20 years (11). The cholera epidemic was first reported at Taraba state, and it quickly spread to 17 more states, including some states in the southern part of Nigeria.

In a separate report by Federal Ministry of Health, it was shown that, in 2011 alone (till 18 November 2011), a total of 22,797 cases of cholera with 728 deaths and case-fatality rate (CFR) 3.2% has been recorded (12). This is, however, not as high as the recorded cholera cases in 2010. Hence, WHO described the 2010 cholera outbreak as the worst in Nigeria since 1991 when 7,654 people died of cholera out of 59,478 cases (13).

The toxigenic strains of V. cholerae produce the strains of V. cholerae carrying the cholera toxin gene (ctx) and have the potential to produce cholera toxin (CT). These toxigenic strains are responsible for cholera epidemics. Water is recognized as the most important vehicle for cholera transmission (2).

In Africa and, indeed, Nigeria which is one of the most-hit countries, the cause of cholera has been attributed to heavy seasonal rainfall and poor sanitation. …

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