A new paper led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has identified cholera “hotspots” in Uganda, one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa with a high mortality rate. The aim is to improve cholera control programs in Uganda, which has experienced cholera outbreaks every year since 1971.
Cholera, which is caused by ingesting contaminated food or water, infects up to 4 million people worldwide and causes tens of thousands of deaths a year.
For their study, the researchers identified high risk cholera clusters using outbreak data the Ugandan Ministry of Health collected for years 2011 through 2016. Cholera is caused by ingesting contaminated food or water, which often results from poor sanitation.
The findings were published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease.
The researchers found 22 districts in Uganda with a high risk of cholera out of a total of 122. Thirteen of the high-risk districts were near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the remaining nine were near a border of Kenya. Proximity to border lakes and the Nile, as well as a higher annual rainfall, were associated with a higher risk of cholera.
“The findings of our study could be used as a guide to strengthen the cholera control program in Uganda,” the researchers say. “Since a majority of the hotspot districts are near the DRC or Kenya border, it suggests that close collaboration with these countries would be an effective strategy for controlling cholera in that part of the world.”