Cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone

Cholera outbreak in Sierra Leone image 1
CARE began work in Sierra Leone in 1961, initially focusing on school food programs to improve children”s nutrition. More recently, CARE Serra Leone”s priorities have become economic development & food security and public health.

Cities along West Africa's coast are coping with a big-and-rapidly-expanding cholera outbreak.

Our office got a memo on August 10 noting 7,754 people in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, had contracted cholera since the first of the year. 134 had died.

Today's New York Times puts those numbers at 11,600 and 216. That's 50% increase in the number of people infected, and a 61 percent increase in the number of people killed in just 12 days.

The reason for the outbreak is a widespread lack of access to clean water and sanitation, combined with heavy seasonal rainfall. Areas where people live off dirty water are vulnerable to cholera outbreaks because the disease is spread via dirty water. And to be clear, by dirty, I mean contaminated by human feces. Heavy rains cause flash flooding, which spreads the dirty water around.

CARE is responding to the crisis in Sierra Leone with comprehensive disease prevention messaging and disease prevention kits across the country. We're still gathering details about our response and will update the blog as new info comes in.