Home | News    Saturday 28 August 2004

Sharp jump in hepatitis E cases in Darfur: WHO

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GENEVA, Aug 27 (AFP) — A deadly outbreak of hepatitis E in Sudan’s Darfur region has spread rapidly, with the number of cases almost tripling in less than a month, the World Health Organization said Friday.

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Displaced wait for a medical visit

1,788 cases, 35 of them fatal, were reported on August 22, as compared to 625 cases, 22 of them lethal, reported on July 30.

It remains unclear to what extent this sharp jump reflects an actual increase in the number of cases, or improved monitoring by Sudanese health authorities and their international partners, said a WHO spokeswoman, Fadela Chaib.

65 percent of the cases reported were in Darfur’s western province, with 22 percent in the north and 13 percent in the south.

Sudanese in refugee camps in neighboring Chad have also been hit by hepatitis E. Twenty-one people, most of them women, died out of 672 probable cases of hepatitis E in Chad between June 26 and August 13, according to August 13 figures, the latest available, WHO reported.

A WHO mission is set to leave Monday to reevaluate the epidemic in the Chad camps, the spokeswoman said.

Hepatitis E has a low mortality rate compared with hepatitis B and C, but its outbreak in Sudan — a country that until recently was free of the disease — and Chad could have a devastating impact among vulnerable people such as pregnant women and children, WHO has said.

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