Yemen cholera outbreak passes 300,000 cases

The United Nations reported more than 1,700 deaths to date have been associated with the cholera outbreak in Yemen.
By Amy Wallace  |  July 10, 2017 at 3:50 PM
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July 10 (UPI) -- The cholera outbreak in Yemen is spiraling out of control with more than 300,000 cases of the disease in the past 10 weeks, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The ICRC is reporting roughly 7,000 new cases every day and more than 1,700 deaths linked to the cholera outbreak, according to the United Nations.

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which is found in seawater and other non-fresh water sources. The disease causes severe diarrhea, which can be deadly because it quickly dehydrates patients and leads to substantial electrolyte imbalance.

Many who get the disease will have no or mild symptoms but in severe cases, cholera can be deadly within hours.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, Yemen is in the grips of a severe cholera epidemic "of an unprecedented scale."

The outbreak was first reported in October and cholera has since been identified in 19 governorates, or territories. On May 30, the United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, said about 53,000 cases have been identified.

In the first week of June, the World Health Organization reported the number of cholera cases doubled in a little over a week, surpassing 100,000 at that point.

On June 24, the WHO declared the cholera outbreak in Yemen as "the worst cholera outbreak in the world," with more than 200,000 suspected cases and that number has increased by 100,000 in over two weeks.

The OCHA has credited the failing health infrastructure in the worn-torn country as the main culprit, where more than half of all health facilities are no longer functioning.

The UN has warned that humanitarian organizations have been forced to divert resources from combating malnutrition to fighting the cholera outbreak. This raises the risk of famine in a population already experiencing rising rates of malnutrition, making people more vulnerable to cholera.

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