Mozambique has reported several cases of cholera after the devastating Cyclone Idai hit the Southern African country this past week.
The effects of the cyclone have been devastating, killing at least 700 people and leaving thousands displaced.
Cholera has been a major concern for cyclone survivors now living in crowded camps, schools, churches and any land exposed by the still-draining flood waters. The disease is spread by contaminated food and water and can kill quickly.
“We have five cases of cholera which have been confirmed. This is in Beira and the area around,” the health official, Ussein Isse, told journalists, referring to the city which bore the brunt of the cyclone’s force.
Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe recorded almost three million people affected by cyclone Idai and about 500,000 displaced, with 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi.
The relief focus has increasingly turned to preventing or containing what many believe will be inevitable outbreaks of diseases like malaria and cholera.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) estimates about 3,125 square kilometers of land that has been swamped by the floods.
The World Health Organization is dispatching 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine to affected areas from a global stockpile. The shipment is expected to be sent later this week.
Some people in the city have resorted to drinking stagnant water by the side of the road, increasing the chances of diarrhea, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said. Other people are drinking from contaminated wells.
The aid group said it has seen hundreds of cases of acute watery diarrhea in the past few days.
“The scale of extreme damage will likely lead to a dramatic increase of waterborne diseases, skin infections, respiratory tract infections and malaria in the coming days and weeks,” said Gert Verdonck, the group’s emergency co-ordinator in Beira.