At least 1.4 million people uprooted by Boko Haram’s insurgency in the northeast are living in ‘cholera hotspots’, prey to an outbreak of the deadly disease which is sweeping through camps for the displaced, the United Nations said on Thursday.
An estimated 28 people have died from cholera in the conflict-hit region, while about 837 are suspected to have been infected with the disease, including at least 145 children under the age of five, said UNICEF.
The outbreak was first identified last week in the Muna Garage camp in Maiduguri, Borno state.
About 1.8 million people have abandoned their homes because of violence or food shortages, U.N. agencies say, and many live in camps for the displaced throughout northeast Nigeria.
Several aid agencies last month said that Nigeria’s rainy season could spread disease in already unsanitary displacement camps, and 350,000 uprooted children aged under five are at risk of cholera, UNICEF said.
“Cholera is difficult for young children to withstand at any time, but becomes a crisis for survival when their resilience is already weakened by malnutrition, malaria and other waterborne diseases,” UNICEF’s Pernille Ironside said in a statement.
“Cholera is one more threat amongst many that children in northeast Nigeria are battling today in order to survive,” added Ironside, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Nigeria.
UNICEF said aid agencies have set up a cholera treatment centre at the Muna Garage camp, chlorinated water in camps and host communities to curb the outbreak, and mobilised volunteers and local leaders to refer suspected cases to health facilities.
The disease, which spreads through contaminated food and drinking water, causes diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. It can kill within hours if left untreated, but most patients recover if treated promptly with oral rehydration salts.