1998 - Cholera - Vibrio cholerae O139 strain
22 September 1998
Disease Outbreak Reported
WHO stresses importance of careful monitoring of Vibrio cholerae O139 strain
In 1992, the world was alarmed by a severe outbreak of cholera in the Bay of Bengal caused by a non-O1 strain of Vibrio cholerae, serogroup O139. The fast spread of this new strain to neighbouring countries and the notification of imported cases in developed countries, raised concern as to the possible occurrence of a new pandemic of cholera.
Vibrio cholerae O139 has been detected since then in 10 countries. This new strain continues to be confined to South-East Asia. In 1998, V. cholerae O139 has been isolated from 3 patients in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China and 3 in India.
Although no major outbreaks have been caused by V. cholerae O139 since 1994, the fear that this new strain could become a global threat is still present, particularly in Asia, where extremely heavy rainfalls and floods have contributed to an increase in cases and deaths due to cholera.
The WHO Global Cholera Task Force recommends that efforts to monitor the spread of V. cholerae O139 at a global level must be continued and/or strengthened.