Pioneering use of oral cholera vaccine during outbreak

In a report publishing October 17th, 2013 in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its scientific research arm, Epicentre, present results of one of the first-ever, large-scale use of an oral cholera vaccine during a cholera outbreak – a major breakthrough in the understanding and future control of deadly cholera epidemics.

Using results from a mass of more than 300,000 people conducted in Guinea last year, MSF and Epicentre show the feasibility of implementing a mass vaccination campaign with oral at the onset of an outbreak, similar to the way reactive vaccination campaigns are conducted when diseases such as measles or meningitis are reported in an area.

Last year, MSF teams in Guinea noticed cases of cholera months ahead of the rainy season. These early cholera cases and other factors, including the lack of a cholera epidemic in Guinea for several years, and the ongoing cholera epidemic in neighboring Sierra Leone, were strong indications to MSF and the Ministry of Health that a major was imminent.

Starting in April of last year the Guinean Ministry of Health and MSF administered 316,250 doses of vaccine during two vaccination rounds in the coastal districts of Boffa and Forecariah, Guinea over six weeks. All individuals older than 12 months were eligible for vaccination in both rounds. The vaccination campaign was well accepted by the local community and MSF achieved high coverage rates. The two doses vaccine coverage was 75.8% in Boffa and 75.9% in Forecariah, respectively. Almost all people surveyed after the campaign, 98.9 percent, reported that they would be vaccinated again in a future cholera campaign.

Oral cholera vaccine was added to the WHO recommendation for cholera treatment in 2010, but so far has not been commonly used as a public health tool for control of the disease. Concerns about its feasibility, timeliness and acceptability by population, as well as fear of diverting resources from other medical programs have discouraged the use of an oral .

"With this study, we show that with proper planning and outreach in the communities, it is indeed possible to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people in a remote area, with a highly mobile population, in a relatively short period of time, against cholera," said Dr. Francisco Luquero, the paper's principal investigator. "However, more evidence is still needed about the feasibility of reactive campaigns in densely populated urban areas. Oral cholera vaccines should not be viewed as a long-term solution for global cholera control. They should be integrated as an additional tool in the global response to cholera outbreaks."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vaccine confers long-term protection against cholera

Oct 16, 2013

A clinical study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases shows for the first time that an oral cholera vaccine (ShancholTM) provides sustained protection against cholera in humans for up to five years. The study showed ...

Haiti to test cholera vaccine

Oct 19, 2011

Haiti's health ministry is preparing to test a cholera vaccine on a hundred people, a year after an epidemic killed over 6,500 people, officials said Wednesday.

Cholera kills eight in southern Nigeria

Sep 05, 2013

Cholera has killed eight people in southern Nigeria and ten others have been hospitalised, health officials said Thursday, in the latest outbreak to hit the country following a heavy rainy season.

Recommended for you

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

6 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

11 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

17 hours ago

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments