Preface

Cholera is a transmissible diarrhoeal infection caused by Vibrio cholerae. Endemic and/or epidemic in over 40 countries (mainly in Africa and Asia), cholera continues to be a major global public health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of cases reported worldwide represents in reality only 5 to 10% of actual cases.

The guide Management of a cholera epidemic is intended for medical and non-medical staff responding to a cholera outbreak. It attempts to provide concrete answers to the questions and problems faced by staff, based on the recommendations of reference organisations, such as WHO and UNICEF, as well as Médecins Sans Frontières’ experience in the field.

It is divided into 8 chapters. Chapter 1, Cholera overview, outlines the epidemiological and clinical features of cholera. Chapter 2, Outbreak investigation, explains the method and stages of a field investigation, from the alert to implementation of initial activities. Chapter 3, Cholera control measures, details measures and tools to prevent and/or control cholera transmission and mortality in populations affected, or at risk of being affected, by an epidemic (curative care, prevention means and health promotion activities). Chapter 4, Strategies for epidemic response, addresses the roll-out strategies of the measures described in Chapter 3 which depend on context (e.g. urban, rural, endemic, non-endemic setting, etc.), resources and particular constraints. Chapter 5, Cholera case management, details the different stages of cholera treatment, from diagnosis through to cure. Chapter 6, Setting up cholera treatment facilities, focuses on the installation of treatment facilities that vary in size and complexity according to operational requirements (treatment centres and units and oral rehydration points). Chapter 7, Organisation of cholera treatment facilities, describes the organisation of these specialized facilities in terms of human resources, supply, water, hygiene and sanitation, etc. Chapter 8, Monitoring and evaluation, presents the key data to be collected and analysed during an epidemic to facilitate a tailored response and evaluate its quality and effectiveness.

The guide includes various practical tools in the appendices to facilitate activities (e.g. water quality tests, job descriptions, documents, etc.). Moreover, the toolbox also contains additional tools in editable formats (individual patient file, cholera case register, pictograms).

Despite all efforts, it is possible that certain errors may have been overlooked in this guide. Please inform the authors of any errors detected. 

To ensure that this guide continues to evolve while remaining adapted to field realities, please send any comments or suggestions

As treatment protocols are regularly revised, please check the updates.