Death toll from cholera reaches 39 in war-torn Syria

A picture taken on October 17, 2019, shows a woman and child near a water tank at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp for the displaced where families of Islamic State (IS) foreign fighters are held, in the al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP) (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The death toll from the cholera outbreak in Syria reached 39 people with infecting hundreds during this month, health officials on Wednesday said, overwhelming concerns about whether the civil war-trapped country could handle its spread.

In early September Syria reported the first Cholera case since the pre-civil war era of 2009, widely spreading across the provinces.

The United Nations soon warned about the critically of the situation back then, the U.N. representative in the country had said that “the outbreak is a serious threat to people in Syria and the region.”

The U.N. and Syria’s Health Ministry have said the source of the outbreak is believed to be linked to people drinking unsafe water from the Euphrates River and using contaminated water to irrigate crops, resulting in food contamination.

Syrian infrastructures are collapsed due to the civil war destructions that lasting for more than a decade with huge numbers of war victims, and much of the country’s population is depending on unsafe water sources.

The outbreak hit government-held parts of the country as well as the areas in the northeast. The Health Ministry reported 23 deaths, 20 of them in the northern province of Aleppo in addition to at least 253 cases.

Since Sept. 5, 16 deaths and 2,867 suspected cases of cholera reported in areas of northeast Syria controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters, Jwan Mustafa, a top health official in the Region said.

In the meantime, this week in the rebel-held northwest, the first case was reported.

The cholera outbreak is the first in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. The civil war has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population, many of whom now live in crowded tent settlements.

“The outbreak of cholera threatens more misery on hundreds of thousands of Syrians already at risk from hunger, conflict, and the coming winter,” Tanya Evans, the International Rescue Committee’s country Director in Syria, said. “Across the country, some 70% of the population now need help to meet their basic survival needs.”

The Syrian Health Ministry advised people to make sure they drink water coming from “a secure source” and if that is not available people should boil water and then preserve it in a clean and closed-gallon container.

Left untreated, cholera can be fatal within hours, even in previously healthy people. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.

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