NGO contains diarrhoea outbreak in northwest

Cases of diarrhoea in the northern Central African Republic (CAR) town of Bocaranga have decreased by 70 percent after over one month of treatment, Joan Ignasi Soler, a representative of Medicos Sin Fronteras (MSF-Spain) told IRIN on Tuesday in the capital, Bangui.

Soler said the number of patients complaining of diarrhoea had decreased from 55 during the last week of July to 43 in the second week of August. The joint government-NGO medical team that toured Bocaranga, 510 km northwest of Bangui, from 11-16 August reported that between 11 and 15 August, only 13 new cases had been registered.

Since its outbreak in early July, 269 people complaining of diarrhoea disease have reported to local health facilities. Among them, 11 were reported to have died. Soler said 57 cases had been identified in Paoua, 506 km northwest of Bangui. He said a higher percentage was found in remote villages where the population had no access to treatment and in areas where medical staff were absent.

The team comprised a Ministry of Health epidemiologist, two MSF nurses and a laboratory assistant of the Pasteur Institute of Bangui.

"We expected to detect Escherichia Coli pathogens responsible for diarrhoea, but we did not," Dr Antoine Talarmin, director of the Pasteur Institute, told IRIN on Tuesday.
He said that they had, however, detected other pathogenic microbes, including Shigella Dysenteriae, Shigella Sonnoi and Shigella Flexneri, which also cause diarrhoea. Talarmin said such microbes proliferate in places with poor hygiene, and enter the human body orally.

Soler said the team had educated local leaders on basic hygiene and emphasised boiling water before consumption. He said that MSF had provided the local health centre with some Ciprofloxacin and other antibiotics, as well as oral rehydration salts, to fight the disease.

Since May, Bocaranga has been receiving drugs from Cooperazione Internazionale, an Italian NGO, within the framework of an EC-supported medical programme in war-affected areas. An MSF mission is due to assess the situation starting on Monday.

Talarmin said the Pasteur Institute was still testing water samples taken from local wells, to determine whether unclean water was the origin of the disease. He said the microbes in question typically developed in human excrement that, once in contact with water in wells or rivers, may contaminate consumers. He added that the current rainy season might have contributed to the outbreak of the disease.

Talarmin said that late this week, the Pasteur Institute would determine the proper antibiotics necessary to fight the outbreak. He said that the disease was easily curable if treated, except for the elderly or other vulnerable people.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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