A first analysis of samples collected from cholera patients by the national Africhol team from the Department for Disease Control and the National Institute for Public Health in Guinea between March and August this year revealed that the strain of Vibrio cholerae (Vc) that caused the latest epidemic with 7350 cases and 138 deaths to date was a variant of serogroup O1, biotype El Tor. It is believed to have been imported from Sierra Leone where it caused 22,345 cases this year.
The identified strain combines the surface proteins from the El Tor serotype with the Classical serotype’s more virulent enterotoxin, which causes the severe cholera diarrhea. Similar Vc variants have been incremented with large epidemics in the past, such as 2004 in Mozambique, 2009 in Zimbabwe and 2010-2011 in the Lake Tchad basin and in Haiti.
The analysis were conducted by the Africhol consortium member, the University Hospital of Marseille with funding from Unicef using molecular diagnostic techniques. These results are preliminary and still need to be reconfirmed. The Africhol consortium will conduct further microbiological studies to compare in detail the circulating strains from the entire network.