[R-G] Iraqi cholera outbreak spreads to Baghdad
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Sat Sep 22 12:06:28 MDT 2007
22 September 2007
Iraqi cholera outbreak spreads to Baghdad
Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
An outbreak of cholera in Iraq, which has so far infected 1,500 people, has
now reached Baghdad, the World Health Organisation reported yesterday.
The disease was first reported in the northern Kurdish areas of the country
and specialist teams were dispatched in an effort to keep the situation
contained. The revelation that cholera has now spread to the Iraqi capital,
with its vast population of internally displaced refugees and crumbling
water and sewage system offering scope for rther proliferation, is a matter
of great worry, say health officials.
Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the WHO, said: "The first case of cholera
confirmed in Baghdad was two days ago. A 25-year-old woman had contracted
the disease. For the time being we have only one case. It is likely others
will be identified. The most important thing for Baghdad, even if it is
difficult, is to strengthen the disease surveillance system, to be able to
identify all the suspected cases and to know what we need in terms of oral
rehydration salts, intravenous fluids and antibiotics so we can be ready
when we see more cases."
Dr Ali Jassem Mohammed, an Iraqi public health specialist, said: "There are
now about six million people living in Baghdad. Many have fled the city and
the country because of the violence, but others have come in for surrounding
areas. Many of them have very poor standard of living and of hygiene, so we
are facing a highly risky situation."
The current outbreak of cholera, characterised in its most severe form by
acute diarrhoea that can cause severe dehydration and kidney failure,
resulting in death, was first diagnosed last month. The provinces of
Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk and Arbil were the most affected, and the death toll in
the region to date is ten.
The WHO said it was working with the Iraqi government to avert an epidemic.
A report by Oxfam and the NGO Co-Ordination Committee In Iraq (NCCI) warned
recently that 70 per cent of Iraq's population did not have adequate water
supplies and only 20 per cent had access to effective sanitation.
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