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Ukraine has formed a clear regional network for cholera surveillance and monitoring and will strengthen its response system in response to global threats

21 February 2024

According to the latest WHO report, 24 countries reported cholera cases in 2022. Overall, in 2022, the number of reported cholera cases worldwide was more than double the number of cases in 2021. Therefore, the response and monitoring system in place in Ukraine will take into account possible global threats. This was discussed at a meeting on responding to a possible cholera outbreak with the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine and heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the level of each oblast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take measures throughout the year to prevent the emergence and spread of cholera: comprehensive and operational response and diagnostic plans are being implemented, and operational anti-epidemic and disinfection teams are working. Also, at the oblast level, medical facilities have been identified for hospitalization of patients with suspected cholera who have an “unlimited supply” of medicines - antibiotics, rehydration solutions, and disinfectants. Such a system allows timely detection of suspected cholera cases and ensures systematic monitoring of the epidemic situation at the country level, and in case of a threat, activates the response system and localizes the outbreak.

“Ukraine conducts continuous epidemiological surveillance of cholera throughout the year, and from 1 June to 1 October, there is an enhanced season of surveillance for this disease. For this purpose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are provided with specialized laboratory equipment and reagents. Each case of severe acute intestinal infection is subject to a separate laboratory test. In addition to examining patients with suspected cholera, the CDC specialists conduct research on environmental samples: monitoring of water, wastewater, freshwater, and sea water samples. Given the situation in the world with an increase in the number of cholera cases, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the WHO, will strengthen the national surveillance and response system, taking into account the best international standards,” said Deputy Minister, Chief State Sanitary Doctor Ihor Kuzin.

In 2023, during the intensified cholera surveillance season in Ukraine, suspected cases were recorded in Zaporizhzhia and Chernihiv oblasts. After an epidemic investigation and extensive laboratory testing, they were not confirmed. In total, during the enhanced cholera surveillance season in 2023, 12,604 people with acute intestinal infection were screened for cholera and 11,073 water samples from wastewater, freshwater, and seawater were tested. No cholera outbreaks were recorded.

For reference: cholera is an acute diarrheal infection that occurs after consuming food or water contaminated with a bacterium (Vibrio cholerae O1 or O139). Cholera is transmitted by the fecal-oral route from person to person, most often by drinking contaminated water, vegetables, and fruits, swimming in open water, as well as through food and household contacts. Without proper treatment, cholera can lead to dehydration and death.