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Hepatitis E epidemic looms in Darfur

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 01 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:0409312a
  1. Karen Hebert1
  1. 1London

At the time of going to press the World Health Organization confirms that 625 cases of infection with hepatitis E virus and 22 deaths have been documented in western Sudan. The UN Population Fund and WHO both warned that the virus--which is usually transmitted through water contaminated with human waste--could spread quickly in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of refugees live in overcrowded camps with poor sanitation.

Three quarters of the fatalities in one camp were pregnant women. warns that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable and fear that maternal deaths may skyrocket.

This message comes shortly after Rowan Gillies, president of Médecins Sans Frontières, warned that Darfur was “An epidemic waiting to happen.”

Dr Gillies explained that the number of latrines available in the whole of western south Darfur is minimal at best. In addition, water is in very short supply, with people getting only 8-10 of the 20 litres needed per day. He expressed concern over the potential for an epidemic: “To be honest, if you want to create the environment for an epidemic it's are all there and very …

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