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Benin: Cholera outbreak hits southwest region; 49 cases confirmed

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Summary: Since 23 October 2012, the municipality of Comé in the department of Mono in the southwest part of Benin has experienced a cholera epidemic; currently counting 49 confirmed cases, 3 of which were reported in the neighbouring municipality of Houéyogbé.

Samples of the 5 initially suspected cases were sent to the departmental and later national laboratory, and after confirmation of cholera, the government of Benin declared an epidemic at the health zone level. The number of cases could be higher, as it is expected that not all cases were referred to official facilities and registered.

The spread of the disease is suspected to be related to consumption of unsafe water and contaminated smoked fish as well as lack of proper sanitation and hygiene awareness.

In its role as auxiliary to the government of Benin, the Benin Red Cross Society (BRCS) has mobilized its volunteers at branch level to support the health authorities in improvement of cholera awareness (prevention, detection and referral), hygiene promotion, safe water and improved sanitation at community level at an early stage to prevent the effects and spread of the epidemic.

This operation is expected to be implemented over 3 months, and will therefore be completed by 9 February, 2013. A final report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 9 May, 2013)