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Image: Ben Barber, USAID

The World Health Organization (WHO) have reported a sudden and unprecedented outbreak of Cholera in specific areas of Yemen. 329 fatalities and 32,056 suspected cases are reported since 27 April  and a further 7.6 million people are at risk, according to the organization [1].

 

Medical supplies, including oral and i.v. rehydration fluids, are being distributed by the WHO in the affected areas such as Sana’a, Yemen’s largest city.

 

Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by ingestion of the bacteria Vibrio cholera, usually through contaminated water and food supplies. Cholera is a relatively straightforward condition to treat with basic oral and i.v. rehydration, however left untreated, cholera can be lethal.

 

A two-year civil war between government and rebel forces has contributed significantly to this outbreak, as sanitation and water infrastructure have been severely damaged by the conflict.  In addition, the recent warm weather and rains have washed landfill waste into local water supplies, causing heavy contamination.

 

As the war-weakened health system is trying to grapple with the recent rise in cholera cases, the WHO continues to deliver vital support to affected communities. Medicines, health education campaigns and rapid response teams are being trained to take appropriate protective action against suspected cases, such as chlorination of water sources [2].

 

Dr Nevio Zagaria, a WHO Representative in Yemen, has told reporters that “Containing the spread of the outbreak is a high priority for WHO”.

 

 

References and more information:

[1] http://www.emro.who.int/media/news/who-responds-to-resurgent-cholera-in-yemen.html

[2] http://www.emro.who.int/surveillance-forecasting-response/outbreaks/cholera-update-yemen.html