Thursday, May 8, 2008

Myanmar After The Storm: Cholera Erupts

"The (feared) cholera epidemic has begun," according to a doctor quoted today in The First Post.

As I predicted in Myanmar After The Storm: Part 1, cholera – always endemic in this region – has spread in two areas of the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) Delta. The lack of clean water, fresh food, and even rudimentary sanitary facilities will make this epidemic extremely difficult to contain.

The flooded rice paddies are strewn with the dead bodies of people and oxen, contributing further to the spread of enteric diseases. I expect that dysentery, acute watery diarrhea, and hepatitis will follow on the heels of the cholera.

Every day that aid workers are delayed from entering the flood zones will exacerbate the health crisis. But even once the workers and their supplies arrive, it will be months before life in the delta can even begin to return to normal.

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