Lebanon has recorded the first death case from cholera since detecting the disease in the country in October, the health ministry has said.
Lebanon recorded its first case of cholera since 1993 on October 5, likely the result of a serious outbreak in neighbouring Syria crossing the border between the countries and exacerbated by poor sanitation and crumbling infrastructure in Lebanon after three years of unprecedented economic crisis.
The total number of recorded infections this month so far has reached 26, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
“The common point between these cases is that the majority of patients are displaced Syrians,” Health Minister Firas Abiad said.
“The absence of basic services, like safe water and sewerage networks, in places where refugees gather, constitutes a fertile ground for the epidemic to spread in Lebanon.”
Syria has recorded 41 deaths from cholera and more than 700 cases, the country’s official SANA news agency reported on Tuesday.
The United Nations warned earlier this month that the outbreak is “evolving alarmingly”.
Lebanon hosts more than a million refugees from Syria’s civil war, which broke out in 2011.
Most live in poverty, and their living conditions have worsened due to Lebanon’s economic woes.
Cholera is generally contracted from contaminated food or water, and causes diarrhoea and vomiting. It can spread in residential areas that lack proper sewerage networks or mains drinking water.
Cholera can kill within hours if left untreated, according to the World Health Organization, but many of those infected will have no or mild symptoms.
It can be easily treated with oral rehydration solution, but more severe cases may require intravenous fluids and antibiotics, according to the WHO.
Worldwide, the disease affects between 1.3 million and four million people each year, killing between 21,000 and 143,000 people.