OUTBREAK: Syrian refugees living in makeshift camps in the Lebanese border town of Arsal are facing an outbreak of hepatitis, with more than 300 recorded cases of the infectious disease, reported the grassroots aid organization Coordination for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon on Sunday.
Nearly 185 of those cases were discovered in just one month at a nearby field hospital, Arsal-based doctor Qasim Zein told the Lebanese daily A-Nahar on Sunday, while also calling for a rapid intervention.
All three strains of the hepatitis disease are present in the camp. They typically spread through contact with blood or stool infected with the disease.
Health officials in the area are concerned that the poor sanitary conditions of the camps will accelerate the disease’s spread.
The upcoming winter rains and frequent flooding of the camps that accompanies it is another major concern.
“The ministry of health has been closely following the situation since the first appearance in Arsal in December 2013,” Lebanon’s Minister of Health Wael Abu Faour told A-Nahar.
The lack of clear infrastructure in the refugee camps around Arsal make it difficult to effectively address the issue. Nearly 70,000 Syrian refugees are spread out across 70 different unofficial camps in the area, according to Saudi-based news agency A-Sharq Al-Awsat.