By NewsDesk @bactiman63

Today, UNICEF published a piece in UN News concerning plague in Ituri Province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the risks for young children.

Public domain image (cropped)/Calliopejen

Izzy Scott Moncrieff, UNICEF Social Sciences Analytics Cell (CASS) Field Supervisor quoted as saying, “The really worrying thing here is that we’ve got plague reported in areas which had not seen a case for more than 15 years, and many more cases in areas where they had very few or none previously.”

According to WHO, From epidemiological week 1 to 25, 2021 (ending on 27 June), 117 suspected plague cases including 13 deaths were reported in eight health zones in Ituri province. From January to December 2020, 461 suspected plague cases of which 31 deaths were reported in eight health zones of Ituri. The health zones of Biringi, Rethy, and Aru reported the most cases. This includes bubonic and pneumonic plague cases.

Poor sanitation, poverty, conflict and displacement as contributing to the resurgence of plague in the area and the increased risk for children, UNICEF notes:

Outbreaks are often blamed on poor sanitation and hygiene practices which attract rats carrying fleas, searching for food, who infect people in their homes.

Plague is mostly transmitted in rural areas by fleas carried by wild rats. Poorer families can be particularly affected.

A lack of resources, which forces many people to sleep on floors because they do not have beds; unsafe funeral practices, poor waste disposal, and seeking medical care through traditional methods rather than recognized health centres also aggravate matters.

As Moncrieff notes: “There are grave consequences for children because they are more exposed to the risk factors of plague.”  

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