a1 Department of Community and Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 4/F Lek Yuen Health Centre, Lek Yuen, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
a2 Department of Medicine, Princess Margaret Hospital, 2–10 Princess Margaret Hospital Road, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Cholera is one of the three diseases subject to the International Health Regulations. After a period of over 30 years, the seventh pandemic of cholera, which started in South East Asia in 1961, still shows no sign of a decline. On the contrary, it has increased its severity and invaded many other countries in Africa and Latin America. In the last two years, there has been a recrudescence of the disease in South East Asia and Western Pacific Regions. The discovery of a new strain of Vibrio cholerae 0139 in these regions is causing concern in view of its potential to cause major epidemics and higher mortality. Hong Kong had two intensive outbreaks of cholera in the last two years. The cause of these outbreaks was not clear, but adverse environmental conditions and increasing pollution of coastal waters have been implicated. The spread of cholera knows no geographical boundaries. There is a need for intensified efforts among health authorities in the affected areas to prevent the international spread of the disease.
(Accepted January 08 1996)