Can you believe that one of the oldest infectious diseases is still one of the deadliest? People have tried for a very long time to get rid of cholera, a dangerous bacterial infection, but it always manages to return somewhere. Even though it has been largely eliminated in more developed countries, it still threatens millions (and kills hundreds of thousands) of people each year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.
We wanted to figure out where most cases of cholera occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, to see where people were at the highest risk. We saw that the disease does not affect people equally in all countries; instead, cholera epidemics occur most often in limited areas. If we focus our efforts on these “high-risk” areas, we could prevent cholera much more efficiently. In fact, we could get rid of half of all cholera cases by targeting only 4% of the population!