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The seventh pandemic of cholera in Europe revisited by microbial genomics

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Nat Commun Oprea M, Njamkepo E, Cristea D, Zhukova A, Clark CG, Kravetz AN, Monakhova E, Ciontea AS, Cojocaru R, Rauzier J, Damian M, Gascuel O, Quilici ML, François-Xavier Weill FX

In 1970, the seventh pandemic of cholera (7 P) reached both Africa and Europe. Between 1970 and 2011, several European countries reported cholera outbreaks of a few to more than 2,000 cases. We report here a whole-genome analysis of 1,324 7 P V. cholerae El Tor (7 PET) isolates, including 172 from autochthonous sporadic or outbreak cholera cases occurring between 1970 and 2011 in Europe, providing insight into the spatial and temporal spread of this pathogen across Europe. In this work, we show that the 7 PET lineage was introduced at least eight times into two main regions: Eastern and Southern Europe. Greater recurrence of the disease was observed in Eastern Europe, where it persisted until 2011. It was introduced into this region from Southern Asia, often circulating regionally in the countries bordering the Black Sea, and in the Middle East before reaching Eastern Africa on several occasions. In Southern Europe, the disease was mostly seen in individual countries during the 1970s and was imported from North and West Africa, except in 1994, when cholera was imported into Albania and Italy from the Black Sea region. These results shed light on the geographic course of cholera during the seventh pandemic and highlight the role of humans in its global dissemination.

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