According to the UK defence ministry, the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, which has been nearly devastated by weeks of bombardment and is now under Russian control, is at risk of a catastrophic cholera epidemic.
According to the UN, much of the city’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, and water has mingled with sewage.
Cholera is spread by eating or drinking tainted food or water, and it is connected to inadequate sanitation.
The filthy circumstances are exacerbated by the presence of uncollected dead corpses and garbage.
There have been previous outbreaks of the sickness in Mariupol, as well as solitary instances in the last month.
According to the city’s Ukrainian mayor, Vadym Boychenko, “cholera, dysentery, and other infectious illnesses are already in the city,” and the city has been blocked off to prevent a greater outbreak.
The assertions are unsubstantiated by the media, and the Russian-appointed mayor asserts that regular testing is carried out and that no instances of cholera have been reported.
Ukraine’s health ministry said it had limited access to Mariupol information, but that testing in Ukraine-controlled area has revealed no instances.
The UN reported earlier this week that water in Mariupol has mingled with sewage, raising the possibility of a cholera epidemic. According to the Red Cross, the destruction of sanitary infrastructure has paved the way for the development of water-borne illnesses.
Cholera is a potentially fatal sickness. If left untreated, the sickness can kill within hours in the most severe instances.
It is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae, and humans usually contract it by eating infected food or drinking contaminated water.
The spread of cholera is connected to a lack of sanitation and unclean drinking water, both of which allow the bug to thrive and spread.
It is a disease that often contributes to the suffering in humanitarian emergencies, when water and sanitation supplies are disrupted and people seek shelter in congested quarters, putting additional strain on water systems.
Some people have watery diarrhoea and become very dehydrated after becoming infected. Fluids and antibiotics must be administered as soon as possible.
Others get mild to severe symptoms, and many people with the sickness have no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the bug through their feces.
Cholera outbreaks can be controlled with vaccines and better sanitation.
Furthermore, the city’s hygienic conditions are claimed to be appalling, with garbage piled on the streets and victims still buried beneath the debris.
“There are several dead on the ground and within the buildings… bodies are decomposing. Cockroaches and flies abound. A mound of earth. No one picks away the garbage, “Anastasiia Zolotarova, a Kyiv resident whose mother fled Mariupol last week, told the media.
After a violent battle that lasted over three months and left the city in ruins, Mariupol fell into Russian hands in May.
More than 10,000 citizens have already killed, according to the Ukrainian mayor in April. After then, the war lasted for several more weeks, implying that the death toll may be far higher.
According to Mr Boychenko, makeshift graves have been erected across the city to deal with the massive number of remains, and many more are buried in back yards, parks, and squares.
A cholera outbreak could kill tens of thousands of people, according to the Mariupol municipal council, which listed a variety of circumstances that might lead to a “explosive” pandemic, including a shortage of medicine and medical facilities.
The picture of Mariupol that the Russian-appointed authorities wish to present is not one of bodies lying under mounds of debris and masses of uncollected garbage.
They prefer to present it as a city returning to normalcy, showing photos of children returning to school and garbage trucks collecting trash on social media.
However, most of the city remains in ruins, and an epidemic of cholera or any other infectious illness would provide a new and daunting problem for the estimated 100,000 people who remain in the city following the horrors of the past few months.