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UF researchers suggest cholera vaccination strategies for Zimbabwe
Date:6/2/2011

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Mathematical models analyzing how a cholera outbreak spread in Zimbabwe are providing new insights into the most effective vaccination strategies for preventing future cholera epidemics, according to University of Florida researchers.

The mathematical models employed to analyze a large cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in 2008-2009 suggest that mass vaccinations deployed strategically could prevent future cholera epidemics in that country and others.

The researchers' findings, published online in late April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide a tool for aid agencies in Zimbabwe and in other nations prone to cholera to deliver treatments more cost-effectively.

"We wanted to know where the hot spots of the outbreaks were occurring, and we needed to factor how many people one sick person could potentially infect," said the paper's lead author, Zindoga Mukandavire, a postdoctoral associate from Zimbabwe with an appointment at UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute.

To find answers, the UF-led research team examined how cultural, political and economic factors influenced routes of cholera transmission. Cholera is a waterborne disease caused by a bacterium that affects the human intestinal track and an afflicted person may experience days of diarrhea and dehydration, which can lead to death.

The cholera bacterium is not native to the natural environment of Zimbabwe and researchers think it was imported from neighboring nations during the 1970s. During the 2008-2009 cholera epidemic, nearly 100,000 people were sickened and 4,300 died. UF researchers estimate the majority of those cases were the result of human-to-human transmission.

Researchers looked closely at cultural and other practices that might contribute to the spread of the epidemic. In order to account for regional differences in such factors, the researchers tracked weekly cholera incidence rates for each of
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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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