Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Vaccination: an additional tool for the control of cholera

26 March 2010


Cholera control should be a priority in areas where the disease is endemic. Given the availability of two oral cholera vaccines and data on their efficacy, feasibility, and acceptance in cholera-affected populations, these vaccines should be used, in conjunction with other prevention and control strategies, in areas where the disease is endemic. The vaccines should also be considered in areas at risk for outbreaks. This revised WHO position was published today in the Weekly Epidemiological Record. The revised paper updates information on cholera epidemiology, and presents detailed information on the currently available cholera vaccines and the outcome of recent clinical trials. In addition, it details the current WHO position on the use of cholera vaccines in endemic as well as in epidemic settings.

Cholera is a disease of poverty, and is closely linked to poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. In the majority of cases, it is characterized by acute, profuse watery diarrhoea of one or a few days’ duration. In its extreme form, it is one of the most rapidly fatal infectious diseases known. The global disease burden is estimated to be 3–5 million cases and 100 000–130 000 deaths per year, primarily in Africa and Asia, with both children and adults affected.