A Syrian refugee drinks from a water tank in the Taybeh makeshift refugee camp outside Baalbek in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, January 18, 2013. (Michael Goldfarb/MSF)
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Health officials say that Lebanon has seen a sharp rise in the number of hepatitis A cases over the past two years.Those who have monitored the spread of hepatitis A in Lebanon point to a range of factors that facilitated its spread and severity: namely, Lebanon's weak public health infrastructure in the face of a rapid influx of Syrian refugees, a substandard water management system, and a shift in the age of hepatitis A onset among the Lebanese population. In 2014, there were 2,500 recorded cases of hepatitis A, up from 1,000 cases in the year prior, Bizri said. Hamadeh pointed to culprits similar to those mentioned by Bizri, namely an overburdened health care system, contaminated water and unhygienic living conditions.Although the disease is fatal in less than 1 percent of cases, Bizri said that from an economic standpoint the burden of the disease is immense as it can cause several weeks of absence from work or school in those infected.Speaking on water safety deficiencies, Bizri said the recent drought between 2013 and 2014 exacerbated the risk of disease outbreak.
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