A girl sleeps on a bed at a cholera treatment center in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 4, 2018.
A girl sleeps on a bed at a cholera treatment center in Sanaa, Yemen, Aug. 4, 2018.

GENEVA - The World Health Organization and its partners are conducting a second round of cholera vaccinations in Yemen in hopes of staving off a third major wave of this fatal disease.

A first round of cholera vaccinations was conducted in August in the Yemeni governorates of Hodeida and Ibb.  They are considered to be the most vulnerable to an escalation of cholera.

Seventy-two percent coverage of the target group, has been reached.  That amounts to nearly 390,000 people.

In the second round of vaccinations, the World Health Organization reports more than 3,000 local health workers aim to reach an estimated 540,000 people, including children under the age of one.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says this campaign is a crucial component in various efforts under way to try to prevent another massive outbreak of cholera in Yemen.

“We have been seeing the number of cholera cases increasing in Yemen since June and this increase has been even more important in the last three weeks," said Jasarevic. "And, this is basically, a number of suspected cases, a number of cases that were positive by rapid diagnostic tests.  But, also cases that were positive by tests done by growing the culture.”   

The World Health Organization reports nearly 155,000 suspected cholera cases and 197 associated deaths between January and the end of August.

Since April 2017, more than 1,200,000 suspected cases of cholera have been reported, including 2,515 deaths.  

Cholera causes severe diarrhea and dehydration.  If left untreated, it can kill within hours.  

The WHO says most people recover with a treatment of oral rehydration salts.  People who are seriously ill will need to receive intravenous fluids and antibiotics.