Unknown disease sweeps through mountain community in Afghanistan

An unidentified illness has spread through several villages in northern Afghanistan, killing 50 people on 5 January alone, the Office of the United Nations Coordinator for Afghanistan reported today (click here to see report).
Trapped in an inaccessible area of Darra Souf province, the population has no access to medical facilities or doctors, and has asked the UN to help address the outbreak of the disease, which it believes to be measles. Last week, the UN used a convoy of 1,500 donkeys to deliver humanitarian aid to thousands of families in the snowed-in area.

The illness initially attacked only five villages with a total population of 1,625, but deaths are rising as it spreads to other villages, causing vomiting, diarrhoea, swelling of the head and face, red spots on the head, neck and under the skin, and a high fever for four to six days, the statement said. The disease strikes people between the ages of one and 25 only. Mortality rates for the other affected areas are not yet known.