UNICEF issued a report on Saturday, June 24, stating that at least 5.6 million children are at high risk of contracting waterborne diseases, such as cholera and Hepatitis E, in the Lake Chad region. The risk of disease is likely to increase as the rainy season gets underway (June to October).
UNICEF has said that they are working with organizations across the region to provide sanitation products and information on disease prevention.
Poor drainage systems in the Lake Chad region, which exacerbate flooding, contribute to disease outbreaks such as cholera.
Cholera is an infectious disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria that can induce acute diarrhea and vomiting, and subsequent dehydration. The risk of death is greatest among people with low immunity, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, cholera can be fatal within a matter of hours.
Hepatitis E is primarily transmitted via contaminated water. Although the infection generally goes away on its own within two to six weeks, it can worsen and develop into fulminant hepatitis (especially among pregnant women), which can be fatal. Symptoms of the disease include fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, itching, rash, or joint pain. In some cases, jaundice or hypertrophy of the liver may occur. No specific treatment is available.
Individuals in the affected region are advised to follow personal hygiene practices, such as regular hand-washing with purified water, and maintain adequate supplies of safe drinking water. Avoid drinking water and/or ice of unknown purity (tap water).