Lebanon is at risk of a cholera outbreak, WHO warns

MENA , Sunday 23 Oct 2022

Cholera is making a comeback in Lebanon as approximately 18 cases were already confirmed in the country as of Oct. 10, just days after the first case was detected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Lebanese Ministry of Health Sunday.

cholera outbreak
Patients receive treatment at a recently-opened medical centre for Cholera cases in the Syrian town of Darkush, on the outskirts of the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, on October 22, 2022. AFP


The first 14 cases were detected on Monday, in a refugee settlement in Akkar, near the Lebanese-Syrian border. The other four cases, who were also Syrian refugees, were detected late in the day in Arsal (Baalbeck-Hermel).

Cholera causes acute diarrhea caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae present in faeces, but it can also be asymptomatic.

“Cholera transmission is closely linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Typical at-risk areas include peri-urban slums, and camps for internally displaced persons or refugees,” according to the WHO.

According to the Ministry of Health, five severely affected people are hospitalized, while eight patients are suffering from mild symptoms and five others are asymptomatic. The death of an infant from acute diarrhea is still under investigation.

While the WHO refuses for the moment to speak of an epidemic in Lebanon, it is because the disease has not yet spread throughout the country, but the threat is there. In less than two months, cholera has claimed 36 lives in Syria, where more than 10,000 people have been infected, according to UN estimates.

With the constant displacement of people between Lebanon and Syria, and the catastrophic sanitary conditions in refugee camps and disadvantaged regions, there is no doubt that the number of contaminations is increasing, because there is not enough money to improve the sanitary infrastructures in the midst of the economic crisis. International aid is becoming scarce.

Cholera is making a comeback in Lebanon as approximately 18 cases were already confirmed in the country as of Oct. 10, just days after the first case was detected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Lebanese Ministry of Health Sunday.

The first 14 cases were detected on Monday, in a refugee settlement in Akkar, near the Lebanese-Syrian border. The other four cases, who were also Syrian refugees, were detected late in the day in Arsal (Baalbeck-Hermel).

Cholera causes acute diarrhea caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholerae present in feces, but it can also be asymptomatic.

“Cholera transmission is closely linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Typical at-risk areas include peri-urban slums, and camps for internally displaced persons or refugees,” according to the WHO.

According to the Ministry of Health, five severely affected people are hospitalized, while eight patients are suffering from mild symptoms and five others are asymptomatic. The death of an infant from acute diarrhea is still under investigation.

While the WHO refuses for the moment to speak of an epidemic in Lebanon, it is because the disease has not yet spread throughout the country, but the threat is there. In less than two months, cholera has claimed 36 lives in Syria, where more than 10,000 people have been infected, according to UN estimates.

With the constant displacement of people between Lebanon and Syria, and the catastrophic sanitary conditions in refugee camps and disadvantaged regions, there is no doubt that the number of contaminations is increasing, because there is not enough money to improve the sanitary infrastructures in the midst of the economic crisis. International aid is becoming scarce.

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