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Climatic variations influence the emergence of cholera in Africa
Date:9/5/2007

Ghana, Benin and Nigeria). The research team set up an epidemiological database founded on cases recorded by the WHO over a 20-year period, between 1975 and 1995, in each of these countries. Comparison of these figures with parameters of local and global climate variations showed the factors particularly involved to be the volume of rainfall and the Indian Oscillation Index (IOI), an indicator of the global climate variability constructed from variations in atmospheric pressure in the Indian Ocean. Values of this index lower than 1 showed an association with a warm event such as an increase in sea surface temperature. In contrast, values above +1 coincided with cold events.

The annual rainfall regime and the IOI act on the aquatic environment in which Vibrio cholerae develops (estuaries, sea shores, river beds and so on). In the wild, the cholera bacillus lives in contact with small aquatic crustaceans, copepods, are a component of the zooplankton. These microscopic animals, which constitute the principal reservoir of the bacterium, feed on phytoplankton. They therefore have a tendency to congregate in the zones where the density of microscopic algae is highest. This relationship is fundamentally important. It provides a means to monitor the areas rich in plankton by remote sensing, and therefore to detect from space the potential reservoirs for Vibrio around the coasts.

Outbreaks of cholera appear irregular and, in order better to understand the epidemic pattern dynamics, the GEMI researchers used an adapted statistical tool that favours a wavelet analysis method. This novel process allows comparison of the frequencies of epidemic outbreaks with a range of climatic or environmental parameters (climate variability index, volume of precipitation, phytoplankton concentration near the coasts). This approach also takes into account the random variation of frequencies of emergence of epidemic foci.

The research team thus successfully linked the number
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Contact: Gregory Flechet
fichesactu@paris.ird.fr
33-014-803-7607
Institut de Recherche Pour le Dveloppement
Source:Eurekalert

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