GENEVA - World Health Organization officials said yesterday that famine-stricken Somalia faces a cholera epidemic as dirty water and poor sanitation are leading to an increase in outbreaks of the disease.
Officials say cases of acute watery diarrhea - an important indicator of the risk of cholera - are now at 4,272 in Somalia - an 11 percent increase from last week’s WHO reported figure of 3,839.
WHO public health adviser Dr. Michel Yao told reporters in Geneva yesterday that the number of cholera cases has also risen sharply this year, with officials confirming 18 cases in the 30 lab samples taken in recent days from people living in the capital, Mogadishu.
Yao said the 60 percent infection rate confirms there is a “high risk’’ of the disease spreading quickly - “so we can say we have an epidemic.’’
The United States estimates drought and famine in Somalia have killed more than 29,000 children under 5. Millions of people face the risk of starvation amid Somalia’s worst drought in 60 years.