A slight decrease in Hepatitis E cases has been reported in the troubled Sudanese states of South and West Darfur, although the overall death toll since the cases were first reported on 22 May had reached 55 across the region, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
In total, 3,753 cases had been reported, it added.
WHO said in an update on Wednesday that 73 percent of all cases had been reported in West Darfur. The situation North Darfur, however, indicated a slight increase in cases.
According to WHO, existing resources had remained insufficient to cover the basic water and sanitation needs of the internally displaced populations (IDPs) in Darfur. Additional efforts were still needed to improve access to safe, clean water and better sanitation in the camps in order to stop the spread of, and reduce the number of new infections.
Relief agencies in Darfur set up a working group to monitor and coordinate activities to stem the spread of Hepatitis E after the outbreak was reported. Apart from strengthening surveillance, mass chlorination of water, an aggressive hygiene campaign, construction of pit latrines and provision of safe drinking water, especially to pregnant women, had been undertaken.
Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease usually transmitted through water that is contaminated with faeces. It kills five percent of those infected, and is especially dangerous to pregnant women. According to WHO, refugees and displaced people living in overcrowded camps are at the highest risk of infection.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) warned after the outbreak was first reported that unless immediate action was taken to avert the spread of the disease in Darfur, it could spread quickly among the hundreds of thousands of IDPs living in camps with poor sanitation.
It said while Hepatitis E usually had a fatality rate of one to four percent, the virus was several times more lethal when it infected pregnant women. In one camp where the virus had been detected in West Darfur, UNFPA said, six of the eight people who died were pregnant women.
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