The worst cholera outbreak emerges in Yemen

Outbreaks can impact entire communities and kill large numbers of people if the right treatment methods aren't available. Whenever a disease becomes an epidemic, it's critical to act quickly to slow and stop its spread. However, events within a particular region might prevent people from receiving the care that they need. The worst cholera outbreak in years has emerged in Yemen, and organizations are struggling to send necessary medical supplies to meet rising demand.

It's in the water

Cholera is an infection caused by ingesting water contaminated with bacteria. While this disease was common in the U.S. in the 1800s, it was eradicated through the implementation of modern water and sewage treatment systems. Developing countries don't have the same infrastructure, leaving them vulnerable. Affected individuals might show symptoms as soon as 12 hours or as late as 5 days after ingesting contaminated water. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases can be treated with an oral rehydration solution, while those with more severe conditions will need intravenous fluids and antibiotics. Without the proper care, those affected by cholera can die within hours or days if they don't have treatment.

Bacteria in Yemen's water supply is leading to the worst cholera outbreak ever.

Race against time

The situation is dire for relief organizations. According to The Atlantic, more than 300,000 people are believed to have contracted the disease, and 1,600 people have died since the outbreak began in late April. To make matters worse, 7,000 new cases are developing each day, and relief groups can't keep up with the demand for treatment. UNICEF and the World Bank provided enough medical and water purification supplies to treat 10,000 people. A 403-ton shipment of medical supplies - including 100 cholera kits, hospital equipment, 20 ambulances and 128,000 bags of intravenous fluids - were also sent to the region at the beginning of July, Outbreak News Today reported, but it's a race against time to rapidly replenish and distribute necessary resources.

"Infrastructure systems are crumbling due to lack of support and the war efforts, putting the entire country at risk."

Regional conditions impact treatment capabilities

While relief organizations are doing what they can, containing the cholera outbreak is no easy task. Civil war in the area has limited access to public health services, and there's no sign of the conflict ending anytime soon, Medical Xpress reported. Fighting and the closure of the country's main airports and ports have made it significantly difficult to deliver aid. Malnutrition and the upcoming rainy season in the country are further exacerbating the transmission of the disease.

Infrastructure systems are crumbling due to lack of support and the war efforts, putting the entire country at risk. According to NPR, fewer than half of the country's hospitals and clinics are operating, and health care workers haven't been paid in over nine months. UNICEF has paid to keep a water treatment plant operational even after power plants shut down. The collapsing infrastructure can be difficult to bring back, making it necessary to keep them operational now.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen is the worst case ever seen, and the problem is only being compounded by war, famine and collapsing infrastructure. Aid workers and doctors can use a number of different methods, like drones, to send critical medical supplies to areas that need them. This will help avoid going through the fighting and enable quick treatments.