Friday, January 9, 2009

Zimbabwe update

Sadly, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe continues. Yesterdays WHO update brings total number of cases to 35,931 with 1,778 deaths. The bad news is that the incidence does not seem to be declining.

If you look at the epidemic curve, although it doesn't show the increase from zero cases, you can see what is the broad, flat top of a continuous common source - an infected water supply. Imagine what this would look like if the disease was a) a point common source or b) a propagated source.

What is particularly tragic in this case is that until recently Zimbabwe had one of the best water and sewer systems in Africa. However after a decade of economic recession the infrastructure has collapsed, sewers are broken and there is no money to buy chemicals to kill bacteria in drinking water. NPR has run some reports on the situation and the outlook is not good.

The situation is likely to get worse now that Zimbabwe's rainy season has begun... because rain tends to carry untreated sewage into water supplies.

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