Thursday, October 04, 2007

Confirmed cholera cases double in two weeks; Warnings of spread outside Iraq

Above: Boys drink water from a faucet in Yusufiyah in August. Cholera is a severe diarrheal disease caused by bacteria ingested in contaminated water or food. In its most severe forms, cholera is one of the most rapidly fatal illnesses known: A healthy person may become hypotensive within an hour of the onset of symptoms and may die within 2-3 hours if no treatment is provided. Death is by dehydration through massive diarrhea.

WHO: Cholera cases in Iraq double

The number of cholera cases in Iraq has more than doubled in just under two weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement in Geneva Wednesday, confirming reports from within the country that the disease is likely to spread. The WHO says it estimates 30,000 people are now suffering acute watery diarrhoea, one of the first signs of the disease. Up to 3,315 cases have been confirmed compared with 1,500 just 12 days ago and 14 people have died.

Cholera had now spread to 9 out of 18 provinces across Iraq since it was first diagnosed in mid-August in the northern city of Kirkuk, which still has the majority of cases (2,309) followed by Sulaymaniah (870).

The WHO said it was "highly possible" the outbreak, caused mainly by contaminated water, would spread to areas unaffected so far. The number of cases had remained stable in Basra, Baghdad, Dahuk, Mosul and Tikrit but the first case had been confirmed in Wasit.

Read the rest at Earth Times

Iraq oil city reports 100 new cholera cases a day

Hospitals in Iraq's northern oil hub are reporting up to 100 new cases of cholera a day as the bacterial disease continues to spread across the country, a top medical official said Monday.

Doctor Amir al-Khuzai, the health ministry's pointman in tackling the crisis, said the number of infections in Kirkuk had risen to 2,069 at the weekend from 1,671 earlier in the week.

"This means that we are seeing almost 100 new cases a day in the hospitals of Kirkuk," he told AFP.

Read the rest at AFP Google

Cholera outbreak spreading in Iraq

A senior Iraqi health official has warned that a deadly cholera outbreak in the country could rapidly spread in the next two months.

A health ministry official told the Iraqi Parliament on Wednesday that the ministry is incapable of containing the outbreak due to a lack of chlorine dioxide, a chemical with disinfectant properties used to clean water.

Adel Mohsen said that large shipments of the chemical known as chlorine were barred at the borders because of tight security measures by the US and were returned to the providers.

"We need more than 150 million chlorine pills until the end of the year," Mohsen said.

Read the rest at Press TV

WHO puts Iraq's neighbours on cholera lookout

The World Health Organisation Wednesday called on Iraq's neighbours to reinforce surveillance for cholera as the disease spread in the conflict-ridden country.

The WHO said in a statement it was not recommending any travel or trade restrictions to and from affected areas in Iraq, where 3,389 cases of cholera have now been confirmed and 14 people have died from the disease.

"However, neighbouring countries are encouraged to reinforce their active surveillance and preparedness systems," it added...

"The disease is continuing to spread across Iraq and dissemination to as yet unaffected areas remains highly possible," it added.

Read the rest at AFP Google

WHO Statement on Cholera in Iraq

Since the cholera outbreak was first detected in Kirkuk, Northern Iraq, on 14 August 2007, it has spread to 9 out of 18 provinces across Iraq. It is estimated that more than 30 000 people have fallen ill with acute watery diarrhoea, among which 3 315 were identified as positive for Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium causing the disease. A total of 14 people are known to have died of the disease. The case-fatality rate has remained low throughout the outbreak indicating that those who have become sick have been able to access adequate treatment on time.

The disease is continuing to spread across Iraq and dissemination to as yet unaffected areas remains highly possible. Epidemiological curves are still rising in the provinces from which the majority of laboratory-confirmed cases have originated, Kirkuk (2309) and Sulaymaniah (870). An increasing number of cases of acute watery diarrhoea has also been reported in Diala, a province neighbouring Baghdad. Although V. cholerae has not yet been laboratory confirmed, the clinical symptoms indicate the presence of cholera. The numbers of cases are remaining stable in Basra, Baghdad, Dahuk, Mosul and Tikrit. However, a case has now been confirmed in Wasit, a province that has previously been unaffected by the outbreak.

The Government of Iraq has mobilized a multi-sectoral response to the outbreak. Specific control measures have been reinforced and preventive measures to reduce the risk of transmission to unaffected areas have been put in place. However, the overall quality of water and sanitation is very poor, a factor known to greatly facilitate cholera contamination. WHO is in the process of procuring 5,000,000 water-treatment tablets and two international WHO epidemiologists are being deployed to support the Ministry of Health in Iraq.

WHO does not recommend any restrictions to travel or trade to or from affected areas as a means to control the spread of cholera. However, neighbouring countries are encouraged to reinforce their active surveillance and preparedness systems. Mass chemoprophylaxis is strongly discouraged, as it has no effect on the spread of cholera, can have adverse effects by increasing antimicrobial resistance and provides a false sense of security.

Use of the current internationally available prequalified oral cholera vaccine is not recommended once an outbreak has started due to its 2-dose regimen and the time required to reach protective efficacy, high cost and the heavy logistics associated with its use. The use of the parenteral cholera vaccine has never been recommended by WHO due to its low protective efficacy and the high occurrence of severe adverse reactions.

From the World Health Organization

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