Yemen cholera epidemic kills 2,000, infects 500,000 as outbreak hits ‘grim milestone’

The cholera outbreak in Yemen, which began in April, has now killed 2,000 people and infected 500,000 in what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as “largest epidemic in the world.”

While the outbreak slowed in July in the worst affected areas, the waterborne disease continues to spread to new areas, creating additional strain on the limited resources available to deal with the crisis.

“The response is working in some places. We can tell you that surveillance confirms a decline in suspected cases over the past four weeks in some of the most affected governorates,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing last Friday, as cited by Reuters.

“Most notably Sanaa city, Hajja and Amran are consistent with his decline. But in many other districts, cases and deaths persist and are on the rise.”

There are 5,000 new cases of cholera a day in Yemen with the current total standing at 503,484, according to Reuters.

Cholera causes acute diarrhoea and dehydration and the disease is spread by the consumption of food or water tainted with human feces.

The country’s waste management and water treatment infrastructure has been severely damaged during the two-year civil war, which has killed more than 10,000 people, according to Reuters. This leads to ever-increasing risk of infection, particularly in major population centers.

The clean water supply is severely curtailed in the majority of the country and waste collection has ceased in major cities. This two-pronged health crisis has pushed Yemen’s health service to the brink of collapse.

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