HEALTH Cholera claims tens of thousands of lives

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The Independent Online
Cholera has staged a major comeback in the 1990s, making millions of people ill and causing tens of thousands of deaths around the world, scientists said yesterday.

The increase is due in large part to epidemics that have broken out in Latin America, which had been free of the disease for more than 100 years. And in Asia, a new strain of the cholera bacterium has appeared. It has led to major epidemics in India, Bangladesh and other countries.

Writing in the Lancet, Dr Jose Sanchez, a US Army medical research officer in Brazil, and Dr David Taylor of the US Naval Research Institute Detachment in Lima, Peru, said there had been 1.4 million reported cases of cholera, killing more than 10,000 in the Americas.

The number of travellers catching the disease while abroad has also jumped in recent years. In 1991 75 passengers aboard a flight from South America to Los Angeles became infected.

The doctors said that despite the development of promising vaccines, prevention remained the best strategy for combating cholera.