Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – There is a cholera alert in Nepal, with at least 40 cases to date confirmed by the Division for epidemiological and disease control (EDCD) in Kathmandu. The first recorded infection dates back to July 26, and in less than three weeks four people have died. According to initial tests, the epidemic has been caused by the consumption of contaminated water. The poor sanitary conditions, compounded by the "Great Earthquake", have helped spread the bacteria.
Thousands of people in the valley are panicking. The District health office has been using loudspeakers to explain the situation to the population. The earthquake of April 25 destroyed water pipes and drains. Many pipes have not yet been repaired. According to Dr. Rajesh Shah, "the root cause of this epidemic is the consumption of contaminated food and water. No one should consume stocks provided by the government without first boiling them".
EDCD director Dr. Baburam Marasini, says: "Most of the patients come from Kalimati, Kuleshwor, Soalteeode, Kalanki and Naikap. These are areas with high population density and poor health services. According to reports, many people have contracted the bacteria from contaminated water and food from the prison".
The infected were taken to hospital as soon as they showed the first symptoms: nausea, vomiting, headache, difficulty in movement. More than 220 people have been treated for severe diarrhea. Of these, at least three have died.
Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, who was also involved in the treatment, explains: "We have yet to see many patients in order to confirm that it is cholera. The number of those infected could exceed one thousand, because the bacterium is spreading very rapidly. If care is not taken, many could lose their lives. We urge everyone to be careful and care for their health. "
In particular, he adds, "we are concerned about the conditions of thousands of people who are in prison. Tests show that many already show some symptoms. If the government continues to ignore them, they will pay a very high price".
Pollution, contaminated water, collapsing sanitation services and overcrowding are the cause of the disease. Monsoon rains are exacerbating the problem, as “panic and fear” spreads. Experts urge people to boil water rather than rely on government supplies.
The capital Sana'a and the neighboring province of Amanat al-Semah is the epicenter of the epidemic. Poor hygiene conditions and poverty have favored the spread. WHO: Less than 45% of hospitals and clinics work full time. The war has damaged or destroyed at least 300 medical facilities.
2226 people have already died since last April. The epidemic is favored by the deterioration of sanitary conditions and the blockade imposed by the Saudis. MSF: highly resistant bacteria. Fears for a peak in the cases with the beginning of the rainy season in March. Over 80% of the population needs food, fuel, water and medicines.