Outbreak News Today

Yemen cholera outbreak closes in on 850,000 cases

Since the cholera outbreak began in October 2010, months after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, 800,665 cases have been reported, including 9,480 deaths. This was the most recent data I reported on concerning the Haiti situation back in May.

Yemen map/L’Américain

Since Apr. 27, 2017 through Oct. 17, 2017, Yemen has seen 845,912 cases and 2170 deaths, in less than six months. While it appears to have slowed somewhat, that’s still 63,370 cases and 31 deaths since the beginning of the month.

The outbreak has quickly surpassed Haiti as the biggest since modern records began in 1949.

Experts believe it will reach a million cases by years end, including at least 600,000 cases in children.

“Cholera has been around in Yemen for a long time, but we’ve never seen an outbreak of this scale or speed. It’s what you get when a country is brought to its knees by conflict, when a healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, when its children are starving, and when its people are blocked from getting the medical treatment they need,” said Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children’s Country Director for Yemen.

“There’s no doubt this is a man-made crisis. Cholera only rears its head when there’s a complete and total breakdown in sanitation. All parties to the conflict must take responsibility for the health emergency we find ourselves in.”

Recent research by Save the Children found that there are more than one million acutely malnourished children under the age of five living in areas where cholera infection levels are high. Children with acute malnutrition are at least three times more likely to die from diarrheal diseases like cholera.

Diarrheal diseases like cholera are also themselves a leading cause of malnutrition – raising fears that even if children survive the outbreak they could be pushed further toward starvation.

“It’s simply unacceptable that children are trapped in a brutal cycle of starvation and sickness. We are dealing with a horrific scenario of babies and young children who are not only malnourished but also infected with cholera,” Kirolos added.

“The tragedy is both malnutrition and cholera are easily treatable if you have access to basic healthcare. But hospitals have been destroyed, 30,000 public sector health workers haven’t been paid for almost a year, and the delivery of vital aid is being obstructed. The world must act now to prevent more children from dying from an entirely preventable illness.”

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