To determine whether pre-emptive oral cholera vaccination reduces disease severity and mortality in people who develop cholera during an outbreak.
The study involved a retrospective analysis of demographic and clinical data from 41 cholera treatment facilities in South Sudan on patients who developed cholera disease between 23 April and 20 July 2014 during a large outbreak, a few months after a pre-emptive oral vaccination campaign. Patients who developed severe dehydration were regarded as having a severe cholera infection. Vaccinated and unvaccinated patients were compared and multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with developing severe disease or death.
In total, 4115 cholera patients were treated at the 41 facilities: 1946 (47.3%) had severe disease and 62 (1.5%) deaths occurred. Multivariate analysis showed that patients who received two doses of oral cholera vaccine were 4.5-fold less likely to develop severe disease than unvaccinated patients (adjusted odd ratio, aOR: 0.22; 95% confidence interval, CI: 0.11–0.44). Moreover, those with severe cholera were significantly more likely to die than those without (aOR: 4.76; 95% CI: 2.33–9.77).
Pre-emptive vaccination with two doses of oral cholera vaccine was associated with a significant reduction in the likelihood of developing severe cholera disease during an outbreak in South Sudan. Moreover, severe disease was the strongest predictor of death. Two doses of oral cholera vaccine should be used in emergencies to reduce the disease burden.