Growing cholera outbreak in Syria infects hundreds, kills 39


BEIRUT (TSWT) – A deadly cholera outbreak in Syria in the past month has killed at least 39 people and infected hundreds more, health officials said Wednesday, raising concerns about whether the war-torn country can stop its spread.

The UN and the Syrian Ministry of Health have said the source of the outbreak is believed to be linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, leading to food contamination.

The outbreak affected government-run parts of the country and areas in the northeast. Syria’s health services have suffered greatly from years of war and much of the country is short of clean water.

In government-controlled areas, the health ministry reported 23 deaths, 20 of them in the northern province of Aleppo, in addition to at least 253 cases.

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In areas of northeast Syria controlled by US-backed Kurdish-led fighters, Jwan Mustafa, the region’s top health official, reported 16 deaths and 2,867 suspected cases of cholera since September 5. The first case was reported this week in the rebel-controlled northwest.

The cholera outbreak is the first in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. The civil war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half of the country’s pre-war population, many of whom now live in overcrowded tent camps.

“A new epidemic looms over the lives of people across Syria as cholera threatens to spread across the country,” said Sherine Ibrahim, CARE Turkey Country Director. health and hygiene services.”

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Mustafa, the health official speaking in the northern city of Qamishli, said the main cause of the outbreak is the presence of vibrio cholerae in the Euphrates River, where water levels have fallen.

Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the regional director of the World Health Organization, told the The Switzerland Times on Monday that a plane carrying medical supplies to fight the spread of cholera landed in the capital Damascus on Monday and another plane was expected on Wednesday.

Al-Mandhari added that Syrian health authorities are working with the international organization to contain the outbreak, calling it a threat to Syria, the region and the entire world.

The cases were reported in several provinces, including Aleppo and Raqqa in the north, Latakia on the Mediterranean coast and Deir el-Zour along the border with Iraq.

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“The cholera outbreak threatens even more misery for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are already at risk of hunger, conflict and the coming winter,” said Tanya Evans, the country director of the International Rescue Committee in Syria. “Across the country, about 70% of the population now needs assistance to meet their basic needs.”

The Syrian Ministry of Health advised people to ensure they drink water that comes from “a safe source” and if that is not available, people should boil water and then store it in a clean and closed gallon container.


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