Diphtheria outbreak kills 35 in Yemen: WHO

By Mohamed al-Samei  

SANAA, Yemen

A diphtheria outbreak has killed 35 people in war-torn Yemen, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  

In a statement on Monday, WHO said 300 suspected cases of diphtheria have been reported in 15 of Yemen’s 23 provinces.  

Ibb and al-Hodeidah provinces in central and western Yemen were the hardest-hit by the diseases, the UN agency said.  

It said most of the cases and deaths involved children aged between 5 and 15.  

Diphtheria spreads as easily as the common cold through sneezing, coughing or even talking, according to health officials.  

Mainly affecting children, diphtheria can cause devastating epidemics if left unchecked.  

Yemen has been dogged by violence since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including capital Sanaa.

The conflict escalated in 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi military gains.

Yemen has since become the scene of what the UN has called the worst humanitarian disaster in modern times, with millions on the verge of famine.  

The violence has devastated basic services, including the water and sanitation system, sparking a cholera outbreak in recent months that has claimed thousands of lives.

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