Cholera could become ‘endemic’ if Lebanon fails to curb spread

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Beirut, Oct 31 (IANS) Lebanese caretaker Health Minister Firass Abiad warned that cholera could become “endemic” in the country if it failed to curb the spread of the disease.

Making the remarks during a visit to public hospitals in the Bekaa Valley on Sunday, Abiad urged Lebanon to grasp the “golden opportunity” to stop the transmission, as “the epidemic is still in its infancy and can be stopped”, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Health Ministry has been monitoring preparedness work in securing enough hospital beds for a possible surge in cholera patients, Abia added.

He warned that the epidemic would not only impact Lebanon’s health sector but also agri-products exports and tourism.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated, and the supply of safe water and sanitation is critical to the prevention and control of its transmission, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO published a fact sheet on cholera in March, saying a cholera-endemic area is an area where confirmed cholera cases were detected during the last three years with evidence of local transmission, meaning the cases are not imported from elsewhere.

The Ministry’s updated Cholera Surveillance Report shows that Lebanon logged 10 new confirmed cases and one new death, bringing the respective totals to 381 and 17, respectively.

The WHO said in its report that on October 6, the Lebanese Health Ministry notified it of two lab culture-confirmed cholera cases reported from the northern part of the country, which represents the first such outbreak in the country since 1993.

–IANS

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