Cholera has struck 248 people in Ayorou in the Tillabéry Region of northwestern Niger, killing six, two of them Malian refugees.
Among the sick are 31 Malian refugees who are living in Tabareybarey and Mangaize camps near the Mali border, according to the Tillabéry health services and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
In the camps and in surrounding villages, UNHCR has upped the supply of clean water to refugees, is distributing oral rehydration solution, soap, and disinfectant tabs to clean water, but more drugs are urgently needed, it said in a 21 May communiqué. NGO Médecins sans Frontières is treating those who have contracted cholera in camps.
UNHCR is worried that cholera could spread quickly due to the high concentration of refugees in the region.
Most of the cases were inhabitants of the town of Ayorou, which hosts a Sunday livestock market frequented by people from all across the region. The Ministry of Health is trying to temporarily shut down the market, which is just next to the River Niger, the suspected source of the contamination. The Health Ministry has also banned anyone from using, or drinking, water from the river, though this is very difficult to monitor.
The World Health Organization is supporting local health authorities to contain the disease’s spread.
Last year 5,785 people contracted cholera in Niger, and 110 of them died, according to UNHCR.