Syria's first major cholera outbreak in a decade has already killed seven people and infected more than 50, the health ministry said today, amid widespread concern over the destruction of the country's water infrastructure.
Last night, the ministry in a statement confirmed the existence of 53 cholera cases recorded in five of the country's 14 provinces with the highest number recorded in Aleppo, this province in northern Syria.
The statement said seven people died from the disease.
The updated tally was released after the ministry announced two more confirmed cholera deaths on Monday.
Cholera is usually spread through contaminated food or water and causes diarrhea and vomiting.
It can spread in populated areas that lack proper sewage or water supply networks.
Yesterday the World Health Organization warned that there is a "very high" risk of cholera spreading throughout Syria.
The latest cholera cases were the first reported in the country since 2009, when 342 cases were confirmed in Deir Ezzor province in the east and Raqqa province in the north, the WHO said.
More than a decade of civil war has destroyed two-thirds of water treatment plants, half of existing water stations and a third of water reservoirs, UNICEF said.
Almost half the population relies on alternative and often dangerous water sources, while at least 70% of waste is untreated, the statement added.
A cholera outbreak hit neighboring Iraq this summer for the first time since 2015.
Globally, the disease affects between 1,3 million and 4 million people each year, of which 21.000 to 143.000 people die.