The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck 48 miles (77 km) northwest of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu on April 25 has resulted in a current death toll of slightly over 5,000 people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with an estimated 8 million other people being affected in some way.
At present, 11 districts in Nepal have been deemed “severely affected” by the quake and the death toll is expected to continue it’s rise. Life sustaining items such as clean water, food, medicine and shelter are also in short supply.
Infectious diseases are also a concern, particularly with the upcoming monsoon season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned today that the heavy rainfall and flooding from the monsoon may further increase the spread of foodborne and waterborne diseases, as well as diseases spread by mosquitoes.
Quartz India reports, “The risk is high given that a cholera epidemic is ongoing,” said G. Balakrish Nair, executive director of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Gurgaon. “And the monsoons are coming.”
Cholera is no stranger to Nepal. The first recorded cholera epidemic took place in 1823, followed by a series of epidemics occurring in the Kathmandu Valley in 1831, 1843, 1856, 1862, and 1887, Stop Cholera reports. The largest cholera outbreak reported in Nepal, with more than 30,000 people affected, was in Jajarkot in the Mid West region in 2009. Tragically, more than 500 people lost their life.
In fact, researchers have linked the ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti (2010-present) to Nepalese peacekeepers, although Nepal has rejected the blame.
The full scope of the disaster is not yet known but we all know that its cost goes well beyond the damage to property and has immense economic and social impact on Nepali society,” Martin Sajdik, the President of the Economic and Social Council said.