1 killed, 18 infected with cholera in Juba: S. Sudan

By Okech Francis, Thursday, May 15, 2014

The World Health Organization (WHO) along with other health agencies remained on alert

The World Health Organization (WHO) along with other health agencies remained on alert

JUBA – The South Sudanese government has reported an outbreak of cholera in capital Juba.

"Last night and this morning, there have been cases of people admitted with symptoms of cholera. The total number today is 18," Health Minister Dr. Riek Gai Kok told a Thursday press conference.

He said the authorities had been struggling with the situation since April 29, when Juba Teaching Hospital admitted a patient showing symptoms associated with cholera.

"We did a rapid test and confirmed cholera, but we had to send the samples to [Kenyan capital] Nairobi for confirmation," Kok added.

"On May 6, the results were sent back confirming cholera," he said, adding that the patient in question had survived.

According to the health minister, only one South Sudanese national had succumbed to the illness to date.

"Yesterday, six or seven cases were taken to Juba Teaching Hospital for similar symptoms; one passed away," he said, adding that all cases had been reported in Juba.

Kok said his ministry remained on alert, noting that treatment centers were being set up around the city.

Dr. Abdi Aden Mohamed, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in South Sudan, said his organization – along with other health agencies – remained on alert.

"We have already enhanced surveillance in Juba. We are moving around, assessing the situation," he said.

"We're already vaccinating internally displaced people in the Juba, Bor and Bentiu areas," added Mohamed.

He pointed out that cholera is lethal and can kill within hours, urging citizens to seek immediate medical attention if they start showing symptoms.

"The more time victims remain at home, the more the chance that they may die," said the WHO official.

Municipal authorities in Juba are also mulling possible countermeasures.

"We are forming a taskforce to contain cholera… so that it may not spread to other parts of the country," Juba Mayor Christopher Sarafino Wani said at Thursday's press conference.

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