To combat cholera in Yemen, one scientist goes back to basics | Science News

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To combat cholera in Yemen, one scientist goes back to basics

As epidemic rages on, health care system is close to collapse

By
1:00pm, August 7, 2017
Yemeni women waiting for charity water

FUELING THE FIRE  Women line up for clean water in war-torn Yemen, home to an ongoing cholera outbreak.

Rowa Mohammed Assayaghi teaches people how to wash their hands. In Yemen, that’s life-saving work.

The Middle Eastern country is facing the world’s largest cholera outbreak, with nearly 409,000 suspected cases and 1,885 deaths from late April to late July, the World Health Organization reports. That tally is higher than 2015’s worldwide reported cholera deaths. A bacterial infection spread by feces-contaminated water, cholera causes diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. The outbreak, which began in October 2016 and ramped up in April, is a result of a two-year civil war.

“The war ... greatly affected all service sectors such as the health sector, water supply, sanitation, electricity, transportation and roads, hygiene services and so on,” says Assayaghi, a medical microbiologist at Yemen’s Sana’a University.

More than half of Yemen

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