Geographical Patterns of Cholera in Mexico, 1991-1996

Int J Epidemiol. 2000 Aug;29(4):764-72. doi: 10.1093/ije/29.4.764.


Background: The seventh cholera pandemic has been ongoing in Mexico since 1991 and threatens to become endemic. This paper aims to determine the geographical pattern of cholera in Mexico to define areas at high risk of endemic cholera.

Methods: Ecologic research was conducted based upon the cartography of disease incidence. The 32 Mexican states were grouped into five strata according to the value of the 1991-1996 cumulative incidence rate of cholera. Rate ratios were computed for strata of states classified by geographical situation, urbanization, and poverty level.

Results: Cholera incidence was 2.47 times higher in coastal states than in the interior (95% CI : 2.42-2.52). The disease was negatively associated with urbanization. Incidence in the least urbanized stratum was four times as high as in the most urban stratum (95% CI : 3.9-4.12). The poorest stratum showed the most remarkable incidence, i.e. 5.9 times higher than the rate in the least poor stratum (95% CI : 5.73-6.04).

Conclusions: This ecologic research suggests that high poverty level, low urbanization, and southern location are the most important predictors of endemic cholera in Mexican states. It is hypothesized that the natural environment of the coastal plains in southern states may also play a significant role in cholera incidence. Poor communities residing in the southern, predominantly rural, coastal states should be prioritized when it comes to investing in safe water supply facilities, adequate excreta disposal systems and cholera surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Altitude
  • Cholera / epidemiology*
  • Cholera / prevention & control
  • Climate*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Phytoplankton
  • Poverty Areas
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sanitation
  • Urbanization*
  • Water Microbiology