Pilgrims "helping to spread AWD" in Ethiopia

The movement of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to and from holy sites as well as migrant labourers to private farms is contributing to the spread of acute watery diarrhoea in Ethiopia, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns.

From 21-27 September, the Ethiopian health ministry reported 634 new cases and one death in Afar, Amhara, Somali, Oromiya, Southern regions and in the capital, Addis Ababa. Generally, however, reported cases have declined across the country.

"The source of infection and mode of transmission differs from one region to another," WHO said its emergency update for 28 September-4 October. "In Addis Ababa the most important source of infection are holy water sites and infected ponds, wells and rivers. Poor sanitation practices and lack of latrines, especially around the holy water sites, aggravated the situation," it added, noting that piped water in Addis Ababa was otherwise safe for drinking.

WHO also noted that nutrition surveys conducted in Amhara, Oromiya and Southern regions between July and September had revealed "serious" to "normal" conditions, with global acute malnutrition ranging from 10.8-12.8 percent in parts of Amhara and Oromiya, indicating a serious nutritional status.