The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the cholera outbreak in Yemen could spread during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in September.
The WHO said on Friday that the pilgrimage draws two to four million Muslims each year, of whom about 1.5 to two million are foreigners, raising the risk from illnesses such as dengi, yellow fever, Zika virus and meningococcal disease as well as cholera.
The WHO cholera expert, Dominique Legros, said reinforced surveillance and rapid tests to detect cases early helped Saudi Arabia avoid a cholera outbreak for many years.
"Don’t forget that today we are speaking of Yemen but they are receiving pilgrims from a lot of endemic countries, and they managed not to have an outbreak, essentially by making sure that living conditions, access to water in particular, hygienic conditions, are in place," he said at a regular UN briefing. "They are well-prepared in my view."
Cholera, which causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, is transmitted through contaminated drinking water and could prove fatal in up to 15 percent of untreated cases.