Cholera kills two, infects 1,400 in cyclone-hit Mozambique

Grant Boone
April 5, 2019

Almost 900,000 doses of the cholera vaccine, procured by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), arrived in Beira, Mozambique, on Tuesday afternoon and the vaccination campaign will begin imminently.

Experts have warned that the destruction of drinking water sources and lack of sanitation in overcrowded shelters in Mozambique create breeding grounds for waterborne diseases such as cholera.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said there is also a high risk of the spread of infectious diseases including those caused by insects like mosquitoes, with 276 malaria cases also reported in cyclone-affected areas, .

Although hundreds of people have contacted the disease since last week, only two deaths have been confirmed since cyclone Idai struck mid-March, health officials said.

The numbers of cholera cases is expected to rise due to the increasing numbers of people reporting to health centres with symptoms, said the WHO in a statement.

"A vaccination campaign against cholera, with 900,000 doses of the vaccine, will start Wednesday", Wightwick said.

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Idai made landfall in Mozambique's port city of Beira on March 14 with winds of up to 110 miles (177 kilometers) per hour, murder a total of 534 people in Mozambique, according to local media.

The scale of the damage to Beira's water and sanitation infrastructure, together with its dense population, have sparked fears the cholera outbreak will be hard to put down.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food and causes acute diarrhoea.

This is not the first time that cholera outbreak has occurred in South Africa, in fact it occurred in 2018 and more than 2000 people were infected before it could be controlled.

The death toll in the wake of Cyclone Idai has now risen to over 400, with thousands more still displaced across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

One person has died of cholera, while 97 patients remain in treatment centers, with the others released, Mozambique's health director Ussein Isse announced.

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