Cholera Vaccines Arrive in Syria
Since the recent cholera outbreak was declared in Syria in September 2022, tens of thousands of suspected acute watery diarrhea (AWD) cases have been reported in all governorates.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced some positive news on November 29, 2022, trucks carrying about two million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV) have arrived in Damascus, Syria.
These OCVs will be used in an immunization campaign starting on December 4, 2022, to reach vulnerable people in the highly affected governorates: Aleppo, Ar-Raqqa Al -Hassakeh, and Deir ez-Zor.
"Procuring and delivering the vaccines timely is a top priority for UNICEF as cases continue to be reported in Syria," said UNICEF Syria Representative a.i., Ghada Kachachi, in a related press release.
"Adults and children are at risk of contracting the disease, but children often bear the brunt of severe illness."
Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae serogroup O1 or O139, says the U.S. CDC.
Approximately 10% of people who get sick with cholera will develop severe symptoms. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.
Dr. Iman Shankiti, WHO a.i. Representative in Syria commented, "These vaccines are part of a comprehensive response, and to curb the outbreak, we must ensure we continue our joint efforts to improve water networks, increase awareness among the population, and provide treatment to affected patients."
WHO and UNICEF, with the Ministry of Health, are implementing a multisectoral approach to control the outbreak.
UNICEF supports the distribution of sodium hypochlorite to increase chlorine dosages and concentration at household water sources to prevent and curb the spread of the disease.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.
U.S. travelers to areas with an epidemic cholera, such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America, can be exposed to cholera bacteria and might develop illness after arriving home, says the U.S. CDC.
The U.S. FDA-approved cholera vaccine Vaxchora® is a live attenuated recombinant V. cholerae O1 Inaba Vaccine Strain CVD 103-HgR.
The WHO has prequalified three other oral cholera vaccines. They are Dukoral, ShanChol, and Euvichol-Plus/Euvichol.
Unfortunately, these vaccines are not available in the U.S.
In addition to cholera, the CDC suggests various vaccination, such as measles, before visiting Syria.
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