Cholera Crowning Lebanon’s Crises: Infections Appear in Impoverished North – Al-Manar TV Lebanon
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Tuesday - February 7, 2023

Cholera Crowning Lebanon’s Crises: Infections Appear in Impoverished North

Cholera in Lebanon
Cholera in Lebanon

In addition to all the crises overburdening the Lebanese people, cholera has decided to be the crown of all the calamities plaguing the nation. Cholera is an extremely virulent disease which affects both children and adults and can kill within hours.

Lebanon registered on Thursday the first cholera case for a Syrian refugee. The health ministry called for taking the needed precautions in order to prevent any outbreak witnessed in the neighboring Syria.

It is worth noting that the case was the first in Lebanon since 1993. The 15-year civil war and Israeli invasions as well as attacks have damaged the infrastructure and polluting the environment, including the water sources.

Lebanon’s caretaker health minister, Firas Abiad, said in a press conference on Friday that the first case was a middle-aged Syrian refugee man living in the impoverished northern province of Akkar, and confirmed a second case in the area.

Lebanon's caretaker health minister Firas Abiad
Lebanon’s caretaker health minister Firas Abiad

“There are several other suspected cases,” Abiad said. “Cholera is an illness that is easily transmissible.”

The developments take place as Lebanon’s economy continues to spiral, plunging three-quarters of its population into poverty. Rampant power cuts, water shortages, heavy refugees burden, and skyrocketing inflation have deteriorated living conditions for millions.

The Lebanese health minister added that the authorities have been working with the United Nations Children’s Fund and World Health Organization for weeks to ensure the cash-strapped country can respond to a possible outbreak, and expand testing capacities at hospitals and labs.

“We’re making sure that there is safe water and a good sewage system,” Abiad said.

According to the WHO, a cholera infection is caused by consuming food or water infected with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, and while most cases are mild to moderate, not treating the illness could lead to death.

About 2 millions Syrian refugees have been in Lebanon since the beginning of Syria’s crisis in 2011. Most live in extreme poverty in tented settlements or in overcrowded apartments.

Poverty has also deepened for many Lebanese, with many families often rationing water, unable to afford private water tanks for drinking and domestic use.

The health minister said Lebanon has secured the necessary equipment and medicines to treat patients.

Richard Brennan, Regional Emergency Director of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region told The Associated Press Thursday that the organization has also been coordinating with other countries neighboring Syria to help respond to a possible outbreak.

However, he said vaccines are in short supply due to global demand.

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

Syria’s health services have suffered heavily from its years-long war, while much of the country is short on supplies to sanitize water.

Syrian health officials as of Wednesday documented at least 594 cases of cholera and 39 deaths. Meanwhile, in the terrorist-held northwest of the country, health authorities documented 605 suspected cases, dozens of confirmed cases, and at least one death.

All what you need to know about cholera will be found in the below video which answers the following questions: What is cholera? What are the symptoms? Is there a vaccine?

The World Health Organization has published the following brochures which show the sources, symptoms, precautions and treatments of cholera.

WHO instructions on cholera
WHO instructions on cholera
WHO instructions on cholera
WHO instructions on cholera
WHO instructions on cholera
WHO instructions on cholera

 According to WHO, every year, there are an estimated 3 to 5 million cholera cases and 100 000 to 120  000 deaths due to cholera. “The short incubation period of two hours to five days, enhances the potentially explosive pattern of outbreaks,” WHO added.

“Cholera is an extremely virulent disease. It affects both children and adults and can kill within hours. About 75% of people infected with Vibrio cholerae do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their faeces for 7–14 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.”

Source: Al-Manar English Website