A strange disease, as yet unidentified, has killed almost one hundred people in Sudan, a country already groaning under a number of plagues of near biblical proportions.
In November, the South Sudan Health Ministry began reporting deaths from a mysterious illness that, to date, has killed at least 97 people, mainly the elderly and children aged between 1 and 14. In response to the reports, the World Health Organization (WHO) sent a rapid response team to investigate.
The main symptoms that victims are experiencing include diarrhea, high fever, joint pain, vomiting, body weakness, loss of appetite, and chest pain.
Flooding: Perfect storm for disease
The disease is concurrent with 18 months of the worst flooding Sudan has experienced in 60 years, creating serious risks of an increase in waterborne diseases. The devastating flooding has affected around 835,000 people and displaced 35,000 according to a UN report.
Huge parts of South Sudan have been flooded now for a year and a half. It has triggered a climate refugee crisis on top of what was an already-existing conflict-induced refugee crisis. The image here is of New Fangak. This is the violence of climate breakdown. pic.twitter.com/E8Mli7mjnA
— Jason Hickel (@jasonhickel) October 14, 2021
The WHO scientists had to reach Fangak by helicopter due to the flooding to conduct testing.
Fangak County Commissioner Biel Boutros Biel told ABC News that some nongovernmental organizations have delivered medical supplies to Fangak and are in the process of setting up mobile clinics to help treat people.
In a statement last month, international humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) called the floods a “perfect storm” for disease outbreaks.
“People do not have enough water or options for water storage, and there is no garbage collection, while dead goats and dogs are left rotting in the drainage systems,” the statement read. “With the conditions further worsened by the influx of new arrivals [at camps], people are at higher risk of outbreaks and waterborne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea, cholera and malaria.”
South of Egypt, modern Sudan was referred to in the Bible as Cush. Despite neighboring Egypt, Cush was spared from the plagues. Exodus Rabbah, chapter 10, recounts:
“The plagues that the Holy One, blessed be He, brought upon Egypt made peace between them. How so? There was a dispute between the Hamites and the Egyptians. Wherever the frogs crossed into a given area, it became known that the field belonged to Egyptians, and wherever the frogs did not enter, those fields were not Egyptian.”
But modern Sudan seems to be struggling with the same plagues it avoided when Israel was enslaved in Egypt. Before the current flooding, Sudan suffered three consecutive years of drought. Last year, locusts crossed the border, ravaging the countryside. This has been exacerbated by a civil war that ended in a ceasefire in February 2020.