Controlling Cholera: Researchers identify hotspots in Uganda

Controlling Cholera: Researchers identify hotspots in Uganda

Researchers have recently identified high-risk areas for cholera in Uganda and published their findings in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Cholera is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with either of two subtypes of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Every year, the disease is estimated to afflict up to 4 million people worldwide and lead to tens of thousands of deaths. Cholera remains a recurring problem in sub-Saharan Africa, where the fatality rate is higher than 2 percent.

The new study examines cholera outbreak data on a district level, collected by Uganda’s Ministry of Health and spanning from 2011 to 2016. This was analyzed alongside datasets on population, rainfall, water, sanitation and hygiene in these same districts.

The researchers identified 22 districts as cholera hotspots, or areas with the highest risk of cholera. Thirteen of the districts were close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and nine were near a border of Kenya. The risk of having cholera in these hotspots ranged from two to 22 times higher than elsewhere in the country.

“The findings of our study could be used as a guide to strengthen the cholera control program in Uganda,” the researchers say. “Since a majority of the hotspot districts are near the DRC or Kenya border, it suggests that close collaboration with these countries would be an effective strategy for controlling cholera in that part of the world.”


Reference:  Bwire G, Ali M, Sack DA, Nakinsige A, Naigaga M, Debes AK, et al. (2017) Identifying cholera “hotspots” in Uganda: An analysis of cholera surveillance data from 2011 to 2016. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(12): e0006118.

Image Credit: Mohammad Ali, 18 Nov 2017

Want to learn more? Check out the PLOS Channel on Cholera.


Tessa is the Journal Media Manager at PLOS. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Rhetoric and Music. She can be reached by email at and on Twitter at @tessagregs.

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