Rebel-held areas in Syria hit with typhoid

Rebel-held areas of northeastern Syria have recently been affected by an outbreak of typhoid.

The World Health Organization said that power cuts have limited water supplies and forced those living in the area to turn to the Euphrates River. As a result, at least 2,500 people are believed to have caught the illness, according to

"They don't have access to clean water, or electricity to work their pumps, so they draw water from the river," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said, reports.

International aid agencies have struggled to continue operating in Syria, despite the needs created by the civil war, which broke out in March 2011. Access to rebel-held areas has been especially difficult because it usually requires crossing battle lines. The Syrian government has also tightly controlled access to international organizations.

"We're working with local groups to provide typhoid treatment," Jasarevic said, reports. "But the mortality rate from typhoid can be extremely high if it is not dealt with."

Jasarevic said that he has no reports of deaths so far.

Typhoid is a bacterial infection that is spread by the consumption of contaminated food or drink. It is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi, which only lives in humans who generally carry it in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. It can usually be treated with antibiotics.