Hospitals in the Syrian capital have been put on alert after more than two dozen cases of cholera and at least three deaths were reported in the war-torn country, health officials said Monday.
The main cause of the spread appears to be people drinking polluted water as well as watering plants in some areas with unclean water.
Syria’s infrastructure has suffered severe damage since the country’s conflict began in March 2011 where residents of some areas have no access to clean water. The conflict had killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million, many of them living in tent settlements around the country.
The World Health Organization’s office in Damascus had no immediate comment.
State news agency SANA quoted the head of the Health Ministry in Damascus, Mohammed Samer Shahrour, as saying that the ministry is coordinating with departments in all provinces to test water as well as some fruits and vegetable. He added that hospitals in government-held parts of the country have the medicines to deal with cholera cases.
In areas controlled by U.S.-backed fighters in northeast Syria, the head of the health department in the region, Jwan Mustafa, reported three deaths and several other cases over the weekend.
Mustafa added in a statement that most of the cases in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria are in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. He said some were discharged from hospital.
In the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest and once commercial center, the health ministry reported 15 cases, including a nine-year-old child who suffered diarrhea and vomiting before getting treatment and being discharged.
The ministry said cholera was also discovered in a factory that makes ice cubes and was closed immediately.
The health ministry urged residents to make sure they are drinking water from a known clean source as well as to wash well fruits and vegetables.