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Haiti can quell cholera without vaccinating most people, UF researchers estimate
Date:1/10/2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Cholera could be contained in Haiti by vaccinating less than half the population, University of Florida researchers suggest in a paper to be published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.

The work places UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute in the pro-vaccination camp in an ongoing international debate over how best to contain the two-year-old epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been skeptical about the effectiveness of vaccination against cholera in this setting. It has instead emphasized cleaning up the water supply and improving sanitation as the best ways to check the spread of the disease.

EPI's Zindoga Mukandavire and J. Glenn Morris Jr., in collaboration with David Smith of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, conclude that vaccinating 46 percent of Haitians could arrest the spread of cholera. They also noted the importance of using mathematical models to target immunization campaigns, so as to gain optimal results from the effort involved in vaccination in resource-poor settings.

"You don't have to immunize everybody. Even if we could get an immunization rate in the range of 40 to 50 percent, it should be possible to control recurrent cholera outbreaks," Morris said. "That should be enough to tilt things in your favor so that you can start getting control of the disease in these areas, to where, hopefully, rates of transmission will slow and numbers of cases will gradually die off."

Morris, director of the EPI, points to the "herd immunity" concept which proposes that immunizing a significant portion of a population breaks a chain of infection -- in support of the efficacy of less than universal vaccination.

Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been infected since a catastrophic magnitude-7.0 earthquake occurred near Port-au-Prince three years ago.

The newly published work
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Contact: J. Glenn Morris Jr.
JGMorris@epi.ufl.edu
352-273-7526
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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