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A cholera outbreak in Syria has killed 29 people, the Syrian Health Ministry informed on Monday. The UN has called it the worst kind of outbreak in the war-torn country for years. The ministry also informed that rapid testing has confirmed nearly 338 cases since the outbreak was recorded last month.
The United Nations have declared the cholera outbreak in Syria a serious threat to the country and the whole Middle East Region. The bulk of the cases has been reported from Aleppo province where 25 people were confirmed dead. The rest of the cases were spread across Syria.
As per the medical officials, the contagious disease has also spread to the country's Kurdish-held northeast and opposition areas in the north and north-western Syria. Suspected cases have risen to 2,092 in Northeast Syria. Reportedly, there has been under-reporting of the cases.
Based on the rapid assessment conducted by health authorities, the reason for the spread of infection has been people drinking contaminated water from the Euphrates river and using it for irrigating crops, resulting in food contamination. The disease outbreak is also indicating severe water shortage across Syria.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator has said: "Cholera remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity." He also said that much of the already vulnerable population of Syria is reliant on unsafe water sources, which may lead to the spread of dangerous water-borne diseases, particularly among children.
Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea. It can lead to dehydration and even death if left untreated. The disease is caused by consuming contaminated food and water. The contamination is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae. As per WHO, there are 1.3 to 4.0 million cases of cholera, and 21 000 to 143 000 deaths worldwide each year. The infection causes acute diarrhoea that can kill within hours if not treated. While in most cases, those infected will have no or mild symptoms and can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution but in severe cases, there is a need for rapid treatment with intravenous fluids and antibiotics.
Symptoms of Cholera can begin in a few hours or five to six days after being infected. For most, the symptoms are mild but for some, it can lead to severe dehydration. The following are some symptoms associated with the disease-
In severe cases, if the person fails to get medical intervention in time, dehydration can lead to shock and death in a matter of hours.
You can protect yourself and your family from the infection by adhering to the following habits-
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