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Published On: Fri, Sep 14th, 2012

Sudanese refugees facing hepatitis E outbreak, 16 killed

The South Sudan in the midst of government forces clashing with rebels, a mass influx of refugees are fleeing as fast as possible.

Image/CIA

Faced with unimaginable violence, the exodus has began, but with this comes food and water shortages and malnutrition and disease are inevitable outcomes.

The United Nations are reporting an outbreak of the viral disease, Hepatitis E in three South Sudanese refugee camps near the volatile border with Sudan

Fox News reports, South Sudan’s Ministry of Health has reported almost 400 cases of the virus since the outbreak was identified in July.

“Cases are rising day by day, thus placing immense pressure on the available heath services and resources. This is of grave humanitarian concern,” the ministry said in a joint statement with U.N. agencies.

Director of preparedness and response at the Sudanese Ministry of Health, John Lagu lays out the situation with the outbreak saying the virus thrived in camps that are overcrowded and flooded.

“There is a lack of food, clean drinking water and the number of latrines is very low … so you have all the right conditions for this type of outbreak to take place,” he said.

In addition, there are fears of the outbreak spreading into the local population as they have less access to healthcare than the refugee camps.

Hepatitis E is also known as enterically transmitted non-A non-B hepatitis has been the cause of several outbreaks and sporadic cases over a large geographical region.

The clinical course of hepatitis E is similar to that of hepatitis A with no chronic form of the disease. Jaundice, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy are commonsymptoms.

People are infected primarily through the fecal-oral route, usually through contaminated water or food. There have been several cases of hepatitis Einfection in France due to eating raw figatellu, which is made with pig liver.

Much like hepatitis A, the fatality rate is low with the exception of pregnant women where it can reach 20% among those infected in the third trimester. Liver failure is a frequent outcome with pregnant women.

Hepatitis E is found endemically in countries that have inadequate environmental sanitation. It is most frequently seen in Asia, Africa, Central America and the Middle East.

There is no vaccine or drugs available for prevention or treatment. Any treatment available is supportive.

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today.

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