Algeria says second person dies in cholera outbreak

Algerian authorities have announced the death of a second person in a recent cholera outbreak that has left dozens hospitalised.

The latest fatality, like the first one, was a resident of Boufarik, a town in Blida province some 30km south of the capital, Algiers, according to a health ministry statement carried by the official Algerie Press Service on Saturday.

Another Boufarik resident was reported dead on August 23.

Overall, 139 people have been hospitalised across the country since August 7, with at least 46 cases confirmed as cholera, the ministry said.

As of Friday, cases were reported in the provinces of Blida, Bouira, Tipaza, Medea and Ain Defla, as well as the capital.

Reda Daghboush, the director of Boufarik hospital, confirmed in a statement that cholera was the cause for the death of the second victim, an elderly woman who also suffered from “other chronic diseases”.

On Thursday, the government confirmed the disease’s outbreak but said the situation was “under control”. It said the cases were “isolated and limited to a few families”. 

Some however accused the government of negligence, saying the outbreak could have been averted had authorities been quick in their response.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Mohamed Bekkat Berkani, president of the National Council of the Order of Doctors lamented the state of health in the country, saying that he regretted that the Pasteur Institute – the body in charge of preventative healthcare and infectious deseases in Algeria – was neither capable of controlling the “epidemic” nor identifying its origin.

A number of Algerians have also expressed anger on social media after Zoubir Harrath, director of Pasteur Institute, told a news conference earlier this week that “cholera outbreaks have occurred in Chad, Niger, Yemen … not just in Algeria.”

Translation: A shame! An institute like Pasteur that’s incapable of diagnosing the cholera epidemic for more than 15 days in 2018 should be shut. And to think that our grandparents diagnosed this epidemic just by seeing the condition of the patient. 

Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water.

It occurs most frequently in places with poor sanitation and sewage facilities, and can be fatal within hours if left untreated.

While an investigation is ongoing to track down the exact source of the outbreak, the country’s health minister has ruled out transmission by tap water, suggesting that contamination is most likely linked to food and improper hygiene. 

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