Friday 8 January 2021

Cholera outbreak in Togo, West Africa.

The World Health Organization has reported an outbreak of Cholera in the city of Lomé in Togo, West Africa. Health authorities in the country reported 67 cases of 'diarrhoea and vomiting' between 11 November and 28 December 2020, with the National Institute of Hygiene in Lomé confirming Cholera as the causative agent on 17 November. Two patients have died of the disease, a mortality rate of 3%. Forty of the patients are male and 27 female, with their average age being 24. Worryingly, 19 of the patients are described as fishermen who regularly visit ports in Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria, raising the possibility that the epidemic may have spread beyond Togo's borders.

Cholera is caused by the Bacterium Vibrio cholerae, a Gram-negative, comma-shaped Gammaproteobacteria, related to other pathogenic Bacteria such as Yersinia pestis (Bubonic Plague), and Esherchia coli (food poisoning). The Bacteria produce proteins which can cause watery diarrhoea, which helps spread the disease, and can prove fatal in severe cases, as patients are killed by extreme dehydration.

SEM image of Vibrio cholerae Bacteria. Kim et al. (2000).

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