Availability of safe drinking-water: the answer to cholera outbreak? Nabua, Camarines Sur, Philippines, 2012
Background: In May 2012, there were increasing diarrhoea cases and deaths reported from Nabua, Camarines Sur to the Philippines event-based surveillance system. An investigation was conducted to identify risk factors and determine transmission dynamics.
Methods: A suspected case was defined as a resident of Nabua with at least three episodes of watery diarrhoea per day from 16 March to 22 June 2012. A confirmed case was defined as a suspected case positive for Vibrio cholerae. An environmental investigation was conducted and rectal swabs and water samples sent to the national reference laboratory for bacterial isolation. A 1:2 case-control study matching for age and sex was conducted. Data were analysed using Epi Info.
Results: There were 309 suspected cases with two deaths, and the most affected age group was children under five years (45%). Eight cases were positive for Vibrio cholerae Ogawa El Tor and one for Non-01. Water samples were positive for faecal coliforms and Aeromonas caviae. The case-control study showed that cases had a higher odds than controls of using unchlorinated water sources (odds ratio [OR] = 3.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]:1.6–8.5) and having toilets located within 20 m of a septic tank (OR = 2.7; 95% CI: 1.4–5.3). In multivariate analysis, the only significant factor was drinking from piped water (OR = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.09–0.49).
Discussion: In this cholera outbreak, drinking-water from unchlorinated wells was a significant risk factor. Future cholera control efforts should include not just improving water and sanitation systems but also intensified behaviour change campaigns.