According to a UNICEF update published Aug 2,  a total of 719 cholera cases have been reported, with 21 deaths. The outbreak happens to occur while the country is battling a number of other problems to include ongoing conflict and violence, economic decline, and increased food insecurity and malnutrition.

Vibrio cholerae on TCBS/CDC
Vibrio cholerae on TCBS/CDC

UN officials say the majority of cases have been reported in Juba capital.

The outbreak response has been hampered by the recent drawdown of partners as violence broke out in Juba on 8 July, lack of access to affected populations, and limited funding.

Given the lack of adequate control and prevention of the disease, and widespread displacement caused by ongoing insecurity, the cholera outbreak has the potential to spread to other parts of South Sudan and to neighboring countries.

Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Water is contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person or by untreated sewage. Food may be contaminated by using water containing cholera bacteria or by a person whose hands are contaminated with the cholera bacteria.

Often people have mild illness or no symptoms. However, about one in 20 (5%) infected people will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.