Localised transmission hotspots of a typhoid fever outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Introduction: in a semi-urban setting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this study aims to understand the dynamic of a typhoid fever (TF) outbreak and to assess: a) the existence of hot spots for TF transmission and b) the difference between typhoid cases identified within those hot spots and the general population in relation to socio-demographic characteristics, sanitation practice, and sources of drinking water.
Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of TF outbreaks in 2011 in Kikwit, DRC using microbiological analysis of water sources and a structured interview questionnaire.
Results: There were a total of 1430 reported TF cases. The outbreak’s epidemic curve shows earliest and highest peak attack rates (AR) in three military camps located in Kikwit (Ebeya 3.2%; Ngubu 3.0%; and Nsinga 2.2%) compared to an average peak AR of 0.6% in other affected areas. A total 320 cases from the military camps and the high burden health areas were interviewed. Typhoid
cases in the military camps shared a latrine with more than one family (P<0.02). All tap water sources in both the military camps and general population were found to be highly contaminated with faecal coliforms.
Conclusion: The role of military camps in Kikwit as early hotspots of TF transmission was likely associated with lower sanitary and hygiene conditions. The proximity of camps to the general population might have been responsible for disseminating TF to the general population. Mapping of cases during an outbreak could be crucial to identify hot spots for transmission and institute corrective measures.
Keywords: Typhoid fever, military camps, Democratic Republic of Congo