South African Medical Journal

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The cholera epidemic in South Africa, 1980 - 1987 Epidemiological features

H. G. V. Kustner, G. du Plessis


During the cholera epidemic in South Africa, 1980-1987, 25251 cases of cholera were bacteriologically proven. The case-fatality rate was 1,4%. Outbreaks occurred in the summer rainfall season. Age-specific aUack rates followed the pattern typically found during the 'epidemic phase' of the disease in most years. The vast majority of patients were black South Africans living in rural areas with an average annual rainfall in excess of 600 mm. The containment strategy employed is summarised. Despite the apparent eradication of the disease, it is strongly recommended that vigilance should be maintained and investigations of all possible sources of infection and all human contacts of any new proven case should be carried out speedily and thoroughly.

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