Dramatic cholera outbreaks in East Africa linked to extreme El Niño event
Dramatic cholera outbreaks in East Africa linked to extreme El Niño event.
Scientists have established a link between El Niño and cholera epidemics in Africa.
A study conducted in Bangladesh revealed an association between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle and cholera.
El Niño is a climate cycle which has a global impact on weather patterns including tropical storms and drought.
The new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science is the first to tackle this issue.
They created high-resolution maps of cholera incidence and discussed the factors that could explain the outbreaks – whether population density, access to drinking water, access to sanitation, and distance to nearest major water body.
The scientists found that while the total number of cholera cases did not vary between El Niño years and non-El Niño years, the geographic distribution of cases did.
There were approximately 50,000 additional cases in East Africa during and following El Niño years and 30,000 fewer cases in southern Africa.
Thus, increased rainfall in East Africa partly explained why the number of cases exploded during El Niño.
We saw an association between rainfall and disease, at least in the few regions of East Africa where we know that rainfall tends to be higher during El Niño years", Moore pointed out.