File photo shows Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) waiting to be airlifted to the South Sudanese Northern State of Eastern Nile, in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Jan. 7, 2017. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)
JUBA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- At least 172 people have died from cholera outbreak across 14 counties in South Sudan since the initial outbreak was reported in June last year, the UN said on Thursday.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said as at April 14, 6,222 cholera cases had been reported since the initial case was recorded on June 18, 2016.
"New cases have continued to be reported in new locations across the country during the dry season," OCHA said in its latest report released in Juba.
According to the UN, there are concerns that the outbreak will intensify and spread during the upcoming rainy season due to continued conflict, displacement and inadequate access to clean water and sanitation.
Cholera is a gastrointestinal disease, usually spread by contaminated water and food, and can cause severe diarrhea that, in extreme cases, can lead to fatal dehydration and kidney failure within hours.
The UN said response is underway in Jonglei Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) teams are responding to new and suspected cholera cases in Duk, Ayod and Fangak in Jonglei, amid the longest running outbreak since South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011.
Health experts say some cases of the cholera across the country remain unconfirmed due to a critical lack of the laboratory equipment needed to obtain a diagnosis, which humanitarian organizations are working to address.