Children Under 5 Bear Greatest Cholera Burden

February 22, 2008

There is a wide variation in cholera incidence rates across regions where the disease is endemic, but children are always the worst affected, according to research published in the January issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

FRIDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- There is a wide variation in cholera incidence rates across regions where the disease is endemic, but children are always the worst affected, according to research published in the January issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Jacqueline L. Deen, M.D., of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul, Korea, and colleagues analyzed population and cholera incidence data from three sites where the disease is endemic: Jakarta, Indonesia; Kolkata, India; and Beira, Mozambique.

Jakarta had the lowest annual incidence, at 0.5 per 1,000 people, versus 1.6 per 1,000 in Kolkata and 4.0 per 1,000 in Beira. Children under 5 years of age had the highest rates in all three places: 8.8, 6.2 and 1.2 per 1,000 for those aged 24 to 59 months in Beira, Kolkata and Jakarta, respectively. In Kolkata and Jakarta, data for children under 24 months of age was also available, and rates were even higher, at 8.6 per 1,000 in Kolkata and 3.2 per 1,000 in Jakarta.

"Estimates such as these are useful when considering where and among whom interventions against the disease are most needed," the authors write. "Improvement of water supply and sanitation is the best strategy against cholera and other diarrheal diseases but may not be achievable in these impoverished areas in the near future. Other immediate, short- to medium-term strategies such as vaccination against cholera may be useful."

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