Relief efforts continue in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe following Tropical Cyclone Idai as of Monday, April 15, as health officials attempt to combat an ongoing cholera outbreak. Officials estimate more than 1000 people have died from the passage of the storm in mid-March; approximately 600 people were killed in Mozambique, 344 in Zimbabwe, and 60 in Malawi. Nearly 3 million people have been affected by the storm and a total of 4979 cases of cholera have been confirmed in Mozambique, primarily in or near Beira (Sofala province). Health officials concluded an oral cholera vaccination campaign on April 9.
While many routes and roads have reopened since the storm, some areas remain without access to aid and supplies. An estimated 4000 people are cut off from overland supply routes. The threat of cholera and other communicable and water-borne diseases remains heightened along with food, medical supplies, power, and potable water shortages, and transportation disruptions and infrastructure damage persist throughout central Mozambique.
Tropical Cyclone Idai first made landfall in Mozambique on March 4 and moved over southern Malawi shortly after forming before moving back over the Mozambique Channel. It then strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. Idai made its second landfall near Beira late on March 14 and moved inland over central Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe.
Cholera is typically spread via infected water supplies and induces acute diarrhea leading to severe dehydration, frequently resulting in death. The risk of death is greatest among people with compromised immune systems, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, cholera can be fatal within a matter of hours.
Individuals in Mozambique, as well as Malawi and Zimbabwe, are advised to take preventative measures against the spread of disease, particularly cholera (e.g. drink bottled water, consume thoroughly cooked food, take vaccinations, etc.) and malaria (e.g. sleep with mosquito nets, take malaria medication, wear protective clothing during nighttime and dusk hours, etc.).Additionally, individuals should ensure adequate supplies of food, clean water, and medical supplies, anticipate flooding and associate transportation disruptions, limited access to healthcare and other basic necessities, and remember that floodwater may contain wastewater and chemical products; all items having come into contact with floodwater should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
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