The world’s youngest country has added a cholera outbreak in Juba to its lengthy list of woes. Since late May, 18 people have died from the disease. There have been 171 confirmed cases.
The initial cases were from people who were staying in a UN camp leading to the suspicion that the disease was brought to S. Sudan by a UN worker. An outbreak in Haiti was traced to UN workers whose latrines contaminated water in a stream that some people were using for drinking water.
In the developed countries, cholera is a rare disease. It is caused by a bacterium, Vibrio cholera, that is spread easily in contaminated water sources. S. Sudan has been fighting a civil war for over a year resulting in overcrowded UN camps and decaying infrastructure. Costs for fuel have increased and many of the poor in the urban area can no longer afford to purchase clean water and have turned to open sources, many of which are of dubious safety.
UNICEF is warning that 5 000 children are at serious risk of dying from the disease if action is not taken quickly. They will be administering 30 000 doses of Oral Cholera Vaccine at their Juba camp as well as reviewing basic hygiene such as hand washing and safe food handling.
This is the second cholera outbreak since the president and his vice-president started a civil war in December 2013. The conflict quickly devolved into brutal ethnic conflicts causing many civilians to become displaced and forced to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions. May 2014 saw an outbreak of cholera which claimed 167 lives.
UN aid has been flowing to the country, but is always in short supply. Currently the humanitarian aid there is at 41% of what is needed to support the people.
Cholera is a disease that may produce no symptoms or may be life threatening. It strikes small children particularly hard producing a watery diarrhea which leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Swift treatment can prevent many deaths.
Blogger, gardener, farmer. Working toward food security and a 30 foot
diet. Addicted to reading. Love this planet, especially my little corner
on Vancouver Island, Canada