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Journal Articles The Lancet global health Year : 2018

Cholera epidemic in Yemen, 2016–18: an analysis of surveillance data

Reema Alyusfi
  • Function : Author


Background In war-torn Yemen, reports of con rmed cholera started in late September, 2016. The disease continues to plague Yemen today in what has become the largest documented cholera epidemic of modern times. We aimed to describe the key epidemiological features of this epidemic, including the drivers of cholera transmission during the outbreak. Methods The Yemen Health Authorities set up a national cholera surveillance system to collect information on suspected cholera cases presenting at health facilities. Individual variables included symptom onset date, age, severity of dehydration, and rapid diagnostic test result. Suspected cholera cases were con rmed by culture, and a subset of samples had additional phenotypic and genotypic analysis. We rst conducted descriptive analyses at national and governorate levels. We divided the epidemic into three time periods: the rst wave (Sept 28, 2016, to April 23, 2017), the increasing phase of the second wave (April 24, 2017, to July 2, 2017), and the decreasing phase of the second wave (July 3, 2017, to March 12, 2018). We reconstructed the changes in cholera transmission over time by estimating the instantaneous reproduction number, Rt. Finally, we estimated the association between rainfall and the daily cholera incidence during the increasing phase of the second epidemic wave by tting a spatiotemporal regression model. Findings From Sept 28, 2016, to March 12, 2018, 1 103 683 suspected cholera cases (attack rate 3·69%) and 2385 deaths (case fatality risk 0·22%) were reported countrywide. The epidemic consisted of two distinct waves with a surge in transmission in May, 2017, corresponding to a median Rt of more than 2 in 13 of 23 governorates. Microbiological analyses suggested that the same Vibrio cholerae O1 Ogawa strain circulated in both waves. We found a positive, non-linear, association between weekly rainfall and suspected cholera incidence in the following 10 days; the relative risk of cholera after a weekly rainfall of 25 mm was 1·42 (95% CI 1·31–1·55) compared with a week without rain. Interpretation Our analysis suggests that the small rst cholera epidemic wave seeded cholera across Yemen during the dry season. When the rains returned in April, 2017, they triggered widespread cholera transmission that led to the large second wave. These results suggest that cholera could resurge during the ongoing 2018 rainy season if transmission remains active. Therefore, health authorities and partners should immediately enhance current control e orts to mitigate the risk of a new cholera epidemic wave in Yemen.


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Dates and versions

pasteur-02871892 , version 1 (17-06-2020)





Anton Camacho, Malika Bouhenia, Reema Alyusfi, Abdulhakeem Alkohlani, Munna Abdulla Mohammed Naji, et al.. Cholera epidemic in Yemen, 2016–18: an analysis of surveillance data. The Lancet global health, 2018, 6 (6), pp.e680-e690. ⟨10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30230-4⟩. ⟨pasteur-02871892⟩


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