Metro Manila, Philippines— Cholera cases in the Philippines rose to 3,681 as of Sept. 17, a more than twofold increase from the same period last year, Department of Health (DOH) data released Friday showed.

The death toll also reached 32, with one new fatality recorded.

The DOH reported 340 new cases from Aug. 21 to Sept. 17, mostly from Eastern Visayas (276), Central Luzon (20), and Western Visayas (15).

The regions of Central Luzon, Western and Eastern Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula have exceeded the epidemic threshold, meaning there are more cases this year compared to the same period in 2021.

Cholera is a water-borne disease acquired by drinking water or eating food contaminated with cholera bacteria. It can cause acute watery diarrhea with severe dehydration, which could lead to death if left untreated.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said a person could experience cholera symptoms from 12 hours to five days after ingesting contaminated food or water. It could affect both children and adults.

WHO: Worrying upsurge of cholera outbreaks

Based on a limited data, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said the average case fatality rate this year is “almost three times the rate of the past five years.”

He noted the “unwelcome comeback” of cholera as health officials see a “worrying upsurge” of outbreaks worldwide.

Ghebreyesus said 27 countries have already reported cholera outbreaks this year.

In the Philippines, Iloilo City was placed under a state of calamity in September, following a rise in cholera and acute gastroenteritis cases. Before this, a village in Surallah, South Cotabato was also under a state of calamity due to a cholera outbreak.

Ghebreyesus said providing safe water and sanitation could prevent the transmission of the disease.

He also called on cholera vaccine manufacturers to increase their production.

“Although cholera can kill within hours, it can be prevented with vaccines and access to safe water and sanitation, and can be treated easily with oral rehydration or antibiotics for more severe cases. But the reality is that many people don’t have access to these simple interventions,” Ghebreyesus said.