Cholera outbreak kills 356 in Cameroon

16:32, September 08, 2010      

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At least 356 people have died and 5,500 others fallen ill since cholera hit Cameroon's Extreme North on May 6, according to the Public Health Ministry.

The ministry sounded alarm bells on Tuesday, warning that the disease might have spread to the capital Yaounde after one case was detected in a passenger train.

"The situation is improving day by day. We have not yet registered any new deaths in the northern parts for the last three days. However, about 100 new cases were reported in the last four days in the extreme-northern parts," Donatien Evouna, the communication official of the Public Health Ministry, told Xinhua on telephone.

Cholera has caused the highest death toll in 20 years in the Central African country.

Each rainy season leads to cholera outbreaks in Cameroon's northern part, where residents lack clean drinking water and sanitary facilities.

The situation is coupled with the border with Nigeria, which is also prone to the disease.

The case detected in a train to Yaounde marked the latest development, with Health Minister Andre Mama Fouda issuing an official warning in the capital.

A health corridor was set up at the Yaounde train station for disinfection and prophylactic treatments to all passengers on board.

A surveillance team was set up saying they had taken all appropriate measures to curb the disease in the capital. It pledged that the situation was under control.

According to health officials, the patient was disembarked before the train arrived in Yaounde.

A budget of More than 3.2 million FCFA (64 million U.S. dollars) has been drawn up for the fight against the disease.

The cholera outbreak in Cameroon is part of the endemic looming large in the Lake Chad Basin, where the World Health Organization (WHO) says it has recorded thousands of cases in other countries including Nigeria, Chad and Niger.

Nigeria has called for a crucial meeting with its neighbors next month over the cholera epidemic, which has affected more than 6,000 people and killed at least 350 people in Africa's most populous country.

Nigerian officials propose the meeting be held on Oct. 17-18 in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, inviting Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin to find a common strategy.

On Thursday, Nigerian Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank are also expected at the regional meeting to fight the disease.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to serious dehydration and can be fatal if not properly treated.

Source: Xinhua


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