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International Notes Cholera, 1981

As of April 5, 1982, a provisional total of 36,840 cholera cases had been reported worldwide for 1981, as compared with 42,614 in 1980. Altogether, 34 countries were infected, the same number as in 1980, and an additional eight countries reported only imported cases (Table 3). Only one new country was infected.

In Africa, the total number of countries with cholera declined from 16 in 1980 to 14 in 1981. A total of 17,521 cases were reported, as compared with 18,731 in 1980. However, the disease appeared to be more widespread in countries in southeastern Africa, and Swaziland reported infection for the first time during the present pandemic.

Seventeen countries in Asia reported cholera infection in 1981, as compared with 15 in 1980; the total number of cases was 19,255 (23,851 in 1980). There was a noticeable recrudescence of cholera in the Eastern Mediterranean area where six countries were infected, four more than in the previous year; the most severely affected were Iran and Jordan.

Cholera was again observed on the Gulf Coast of the United States, where 19 cases occurred, including an outbreak of 17 cases among employees of an oil rig in the coastal region of Texas. The outbreak was considered due to contamination of unchlorinated drinking water with drilling water and sewage containing V. cholerae 01 shed by the index case; the source of infection for the index case could not be determined. All the strains from the 31 cases occurring along the Gulf Coast since 1973 appear to be essentially identical, suggesting that the toxigenic V. cholerae 01 has persisted in this region for at least the last 8 years.

Oceania remained free of cholera in 1981, with the exception of two cases in Australia (at Lismore in New South Wales).

Apart from one isolated case in France, no indigenous cases were reported from Europe. There was, however, a significantly larger number of imported cases than in previous years. Reported by WHO Weekly Epidemiologic Record 1982;57:131.

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