Burundi has declared a cholera outbreak in the commercial capital Bujumbura, the Health minister Sylvie Nzeyimana announced Sunday evening, noting that at least nine cases had been recorded.
“On the samples taken and sent to the INSP (National Public Health Institute) Laboratory for analysis, the results released on 31/12/2022 confirmed the presence of the ‘Vibrio cholerae’,” she said in a statement.
The cases have been reported in the northern part of Bujumbura, mainly Bukirasazi and Mutakura as well as Buyenzi, close to the city centre.
The outbreak follows heavy downpours in Bujumbura, resulting in overflows of toilets.
The government also blames poor hygiene, adding that it has taken preventive measures.
“Some emergency arrangements have already been made by the Ministry of Public Health, including disinfection of affected households, public awareness of the risks of spread of the epidemic and the behaviours to adopt,” said Dr Nzeyimana.
“We call on the population, especially those in areas affected by cholera, in particular, to observe hygiene measures individually and collectively to avoid getting the disease or spread,” she added.
The acute diarrhoeal infection is caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera.
If left untreated the disease can kill within hours.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), between June and November 2019, at least 1,064 cholera cases, including six deaths (five of which were in Bujumbura), were registered.
According to doctors without borders, cholera affects an average of 200 to 250 people annually in Burundi, and every five to six years, the country experiences a spike in cases.