World, Health, Europe

Spain reports 1st homegrown cholera case since 1979

Authorities seal off farm in Toledo where water is believed to be contaminated

Alyssa McMurtry   | 22.06.2022
Spain reports 1st homegrown cholera case since 1979 FILE PHOTO

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain has detected its first local case of cholera since 1979, health authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

Speaking at an epidemiology conference, Madrid Public Health Director Elena Andradas confirmed that the cholera case was detected in a girl in Madrid last week.

She was treated in a private hospital but has now recovered from the bacterial infection.

Several Spanish media outlets reported that the infection has been traced back to tap water from a farm in the province of Toledo, which has now been sealed off.

Cholera outbreaks can spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water.

However, epidemiologist Quique Bassat told Spanish daily El Pais that the risk for the local population is “practically nil because there would need to be a catastrophe for the sewage network in Spain, which is highly controlled, to become contaminated.”

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.

Most people infected with cholera will have no or mild symptoms, and can be successfully treated with rehydration solutions, according to the World Health Organization.

Yet, it can also provoke acute diarrhea that can kill within hours if left untreated.

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.

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