Unidentified Illness Investigated in South Sudan

Nearly 100 people have died
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2021 6:25 PM CST
Unidentified Illness Investigated in South Sudan
A woman walks between abandoned shelters in Majak Awar village, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan, in October. The United Nations says flooding has affected almost a half-million people across South Sudan since May.   (AP Photo/Adrienne Surprenant)

(Newser) – The World Health Organization is keeping an eye on a still-unidentified illness that has killed nearly 100 people in South Sudan in recent weeks, reports ABC News. So far, the elderly and children have accounted for most of the deaths in Jonglei State, after symptoms that included cough, diarrhea, fever, headache, chest pain, and joint pain. The best guess is that the illness is related to severe flooding that hit the region recently. In fact, the group Doctors Without Borders warned last month that the flooding left the region particularly vulnerable to a disease outbreak.

"People do not have enough water or options for water storage, and there is no garbage collection, while dead goats and dogs are left rotting in the drainage systems," said the group's statement. "With the conditions further worsened by the influx of new arrivals [at camps], people are at higher risk of outbreaks and waterborne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea, cholera and malaria." However, the ailment behind the new outbreak has yet to be identified. Initial tests for cholera came back negative, reports the BBC. The WHO began investigating in November and sent in a rapid-response team. Mobile clinics are being set up as the investigation into the illness continues. (Read more South Sudan stories.)

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