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Container contamination as a possible source of a diarrhoea outbreak in Abou Shouk camp, Darfur province, Sudan

Diarrhoea is one of the five major causes of death in an emergency setting and one of the three main causes of death in children (Curtis and Cairncross, 2003). In June 2004, an outbreak of shigellosis was confirmed in Abou Shouk camp in the Northern Darfur province of Sudan. As water testing showed no contamination, it was assumed that post-collection contamination was happening. The decision was taken to launch a programme of mass disinfection of all water containers in order to break the contamination cycle. Diarrhoea figures from the clinics showed a fall in cases following the cleaning campaign. It is extremely difficult to obtain good and statistically rigorous data in an emergency setting, the priority being to intervene rapidly to prevent further cases of diarrhoea. However, the results do appear to indicate that the disinfection programme has had an impact on the prevalence of bloody and watery diarrhoea.


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