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Besieged southern Damascus suffers Typhoid outbreak Open in fullscreen

Rayan Mohammad

Besieged southern Damascus suffers Typhoid outbreak

Vegetable patch grown on site of barrel bomb that hit sewage pipe [ZEIN AL-RIFAI/AFP/Getty Images]

Date of publication: 29 July, 2015

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Southern Damascus neighbourhoods have seen an outbreak of several types of fever due to water contamination and residents are relying on hand dug wells.
A number of areas in southern Damascus, which have been under siege for the past year have witnessed an outbreak of several types of fevers, including typhoid, due to water contamination and severe water shortages. 

Raed al-Dimashqi, an activist from southern Damascus told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "The past several weeks have witnessed the spread of typhoid fever due to a lack of potable water, especially after the Islamic State group (IS) closed off water supplies from al-Qadam and al-Yarmouk to Babila, Yalda, Beit Sahm and al-Tadhamon." 

"The regime has cut off the water to southern Damascus for over a year," Dimashqi said. 

This has forced residents to rely on "wells that were dug before the revolution or hand dug wells. However the shelling suffered by the area has led to the destruction of the area's infrastructure, particularly the sanitation system and has resulted in the contamination of drinking water," Dimashqi added. 

The Southern Damascus General Medical Board, a collective of local doctors, issued a statement describing the outbreak as "alarming". 

The statement said: "During the month of July 2015, we have received 5844 cases of fever, with body temperatures in some cases reaching 41.3 degrees." 

According to the statement, 938 cases were diagnosed as
     The regime continues to impose a siege on various parts of Damascus and its suburbs, exacerbating the conditions for residents and putting their lives at risk.
typhoid fever, while 89 cases were diagnosed with the highly contagious Maltese fever or brucellosis. 

"Fever cases are increasing at an alarming rate with noticeably more cases in July than in June," said the collective's statement. 

"The unjust siege imposed on the area by the regime is a main factor in the increased suffering, as the regime prevents the arrival of medical supplies and equipment into the area. Furthermore, the regime has cut off the drinking water supplies from the entire southern area, forcing residents to use drinking water that is mostly not potable," the statement added. 

The Southern Damascus General Medical Board called on international organisations to intervene and deliver urgent medical supplies, especially since the area is facing severe shortages in painkillers, antibiotics and medications that are necessary to treat such conditions. 

Typhoid fever, also known simply as typhoid, is an infectious symptomatic bacterial infection due to Salmonella Typhi. Symptoms include a high fever over several days, weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, and headaches.

This fever is mainly spread through the consumption of contaminated water, thus clear water supplies and good hygiene are essential in protecting against illness. 

Damascus is currently witnessing a heat wave, with temperatures being approximately six degrees above average. 

Meanwhile, the regime continues to impose a siege on various parts of Damascus and its suburbs, exacerbating the conditions for residents and putting their lives at risk. 

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