In an update on the hepatitis E outbreak in Diffa, Niger, the international, independent, medical humanitarian organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reports the outbreak declared two months ago in southeastern Niger is particularly affecting pregnant women with 34 dying of severe complications related to the disease.

Niger (in red) Image/FireSky
Niger (in red)

The overall case tally has risen to 876 cases of hepatitis E reported as of June 11 and the bulk of the sick are displaced people (nearly 248,000), and refugees.

The lack of adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure has made a bad situation worse.

“Given the scarcity of water for the most vulnerable populations, the risk is that alternative water sources that can spread the outbreak will be used, such as the supply from streams and other natural water points formed by accumulated rain water. These collection points are considered as potential vectors of the disease,” explains Audace Ntezukobagira, emergency coordinator for MSF in Diffa.

“It is also important to take into account that these people do not have the material or financial means to stock up on wood or gas to boil the water in order to make it suitable for consumption.”