Officials in cyclone-stricken Mozambique say the number of cases of cholera has skyrocketed from five Wednesday to 139 by late Thursday.

Cholera is a bacterial disease spread by contaminated food or drinking water. It causes severe diarrhea and subsequent dehydration, and can kill within hours if not treated.

Squalid living conditions — contaminated water and lack of sanitation — in the country following Cyclone Idai are the perfect breeding grounds for the spread of the disease.

The World Health Organization said earlier this week that it is sending 900,000 cholera vaccines to the region.

AFP, the French news agency, reports that a cholera prevention publicity campaign has been mounted via radio and loudspeakers throughout affected towns and villages.

UNICEF has warned there is “very little time to prevent the spread of opportunistic diseases.”

Cyclone Idai clobbered most of Mozambique nearly two weeks ago with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains.

It also walloped eastern Zimbabwe and Malawi.

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