Cholera kills at least 80 in far northeast Nigeria

Cholera kills at least 80 in far northeast Nigeria

Postby Richard Akindele » Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:07 am

A suspected cholera outbreak has killed at least 80 people and forced hundreds into hospitals in a far northeastern Nigerian state, officials said on Saturday.

The victims, many of them women and children, died over the last three days in nine districts of Borno state, where the outbreak was first reported on Thursday, officials said.

"An outbreak of ... vomitting and diarrhoea has occurred in nine areas of Borno state killing more than 80 people so far," Talba Alkali, permanent secretary in the ministry of health, told reporters in the state capital Maiduguri.

Medical teams have been dispatched to the affected areas, while more than 1,500 people afflicted by the disease are in hospitals across the state, Alkali said.

"I strongly believe that the outbreak is as a result of drinking contaminated water from streams and ponds," said Joseph Jatau, director of disease control in the ministry of health.

Cholera can kill within 24 hours by inducing vomitting and diarrhoea that cause severe dehydration and shock. It is treatable with a mixture of water and rehydration salts.

The bacteria spreads through contact with faeces and is associated with heavy rains that flood latrines and contaminate sources of drinking water.

It usually kills the poorest people who cannot afford basic health care. It can be prevented by washing hands before handling food and avoiding contaminated food and water.

Hundreds of people die of cholera every year during the rainy season in Africa's most populous country of more than 140 million, where the health-care system is one of the worst in the world's poorest continent.

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