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A Global Surge in Cholera Outbreaks May Be Fueled by Climate Change

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The global cholera surge drove a vaccine shortage right when countries needed it most. Malawi in the past used the cholera vaccine for prevention, but “now if you don’t have an outbreak, you don’t get the vaccine,” said Otim Patrick Ramadan, WHO incident manager for regional cholera response in Africa. In response to the shortage, the international coordinating group for cholera vaccines changed its vaccination protocol in October from two doses to one, reducing protection from two years to about five months. 

Climate change doesn’t only affect cholera through worsening floods and storms. Hotter temperatures and longer and drier droughts can also have an impact. 

“With a severe shortage of water, the remaining sources become easily contaminated, because everyone is using them for everything,” Ramadan said. “We have seen that in the greater Horn of Africa.” Amid a prolonged and extreme drought, which has been directly attributed to climate change, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya all saw cholera proliferate over the past year. In drought areas that have experienced…

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