Health, Europe

Spain denies report of 1st local cholera case since 1979

Strain of vibrio cholerae bacteria detected does not lead to cholera, clarifies Health Ministry

Alyssa McMurtry   | 23.06.2022
Spain denies report of 1st local cholera case since 1979


Clarifying a report of Spain's first local cholera case since 1979, the country's Health Ministry said on Wednesday that the strain detected was that of the vibrio cholerae bacteria, which does not lead to cholera.

On Wednesday, Madrid Public Health Director Elena Andradas said a case of cholera had been detected in the Spanish capital last week.

A girl who drank contaminated water on a farm in Toledo had been hospitalized, but her illness should have been diagnosed as vibrio gastroenteritis, not cholera, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Local authorities had sealed off the farm.

Only some strains of vibrio cholerae are pathogenic to humans and cause the potentially deadly disease cholera.

Though the one detected in Spain was part of the 01 serogroup that can lead to cholera outbreaks, the ministry said this particular bacteria lacked the toxin that causes the infection.

Researchers estimate that between 1.3 million to 4 million people are infected with cholera each year, causing between 21,000 and 143,000 deaths worldwide.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says major ongoing outbreaks are being reported in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.

The last time someone in Spain was locally infected with cholera was in the North African enclave of Melilla in July 1979. From there, it spread across the country, affecting 264 people, according to a research paper.

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