Cholera outbreaks are common in urban slums and camps for refugees or internally displaced persons, due to lack of clean water and sanitation measures. The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has reported the death of 16 people due to a cholera outbreak at three camps for those made homeless by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria.
MSF said in a statement, "The official count of 16 September recorded 172 cholera cases and 16 deaths. The camps hit by the outbreak were in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, the Nigerian state worst affected by six years of Islamist violence that have left at least 15,000 dead and more than two million homeless since 2009."
Ghada Hatim, in charge of MSF operations in Nigeria, and Chibuzo Okonta, head of emergency projects for the charity in Paris, said, "Other international aid agencies needed to help. In September 2014, MSF treated more than 4,000 patients after a cholera epidemic broke out in Borno State. The living and hygienic conditions in the camps were and remain ripe for the outbreak of this type of epidemic. We need more support."
The first cases of the latest cholera outbreak appeared last month in one camp around the restive city, which is now home to some 1.4 million displaced. Two other camps were later affected.
MSF said, "In the four days to Monday, 132 people were treated in an isolation unit, while less serious cases received oral re-hydration medication as outpatients. A clean-up operation was launched after the first cases emerged and identified a contaminated water source in one of the camps."
Nigeria's main relief agency the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said, "Only that there had been one or two cases in one camp and the outbreak had been contained." NEMA's northeast coordinator Ibrahim Abdulkadir said, "The disease was brought to the camp by some people who were recently liberated from Boko Haram by the military. We have been able to manage the situation with the distribution of vaccines and drugs. We are also ensuring that the camps are kept clean at all times."