A Hepatitis E outbreak in Chad is putting the lives of many at risk, having killed 11 people since September 2016.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reported this on Thursday, adding that about 885 people in the Salamat region in Southern Chad have been treated for symptoms of jaundice which is also an indicator of Hepatitis E in a person.
Hepatitis E is a viral disease which causes inflammation of the liver. According to WHO, it is transmitted through the faecal-oral route. That is, it is shed in the stools of infected persons and enters through the intestine. The main way another person could contract this disease is through consumption of contaminated water.
The viral disease is rife in areas with little to no access to essential water, sanitation, hygiene and health services.
MSF stated that it has recorded 70 cases and 11 deaths, including four pregnant women, to date. World Health Organization added that the statistics could be higher, considering some cases may not have been treated in the hospital or other health facilities.
MSF is, nonetheless, working with the Chadian health ministry to improve their chances of treating the disease. They are working to improve the quality of water supplies, sanitation – the two major culprits of the transmission of the viral disease – as well as testing for new cases and treating patients.
According to the organization, a large-scale chlorination campaign has begun to purify the 72 water points in Am Timan, the region’s capital. Community members are also being educated on the importance of sanitation and washing their hands with soap and chlorinated water.
“As a medical organisation, it is not usually MSF’s job to intervene on a large scale in water chlorination activities, but with no other options to help stop the spread of the virus, we are obliged to fill this gap,” MSF’s head of mission in Chad, Rolland Kaya added.
The organization also called for more aid organizations to intervene in the fight against the disease.
Symptoms of Hepatitis E include:
- Mild fever
- Liver enlargement
For more information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of Hepatitis E, visit http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs280/en/