14 September 2007 – The number of people struck by a cholera outbreak in Northern Iraq has doubled to 16,000 people but the death toll remains the same at 10, the United Nations health agency reported today.
“The good news was that, although the disease has spread, the number of deaths has remained the same,” UN World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Fadéla Chaib told a news briefing in Geneva.
That is an indication that the measures taken to deal with the outbreak are having an effect, she said.
WHO’s representative for Iraq, who is normally based in Amman, has made a number of trips to the north of Iraq as well as to Baghdad to talk to the authorities and coordinate with them on this issue.
WHO has also pre-positioned 10 Interagency Diarrhea Disease kits, each with the capacity to treat 100 severe cases, in order to ensure adequate supplies of essential drugs and other medical and laboratory supplies.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It causes watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. About 80 to 90 per cent of cases are mild or moderate and are difficult to distinguish clinically from other types of acute diarrhea. Less than 20 per cent of ill people develop typical cholera with signs of moderate or severe dehydration.