Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cholera kills nearly 500 in Cameroon since August 1, officials say

Public health officials say nearly 500 people have died of cholera in Cameroon this month, and 13,000 cases have been reported in the country this year.

More than 50 of this month's deaths were in the Far North region, the hardest-hit area so far. Residents in the Logone and Chari divisions of the region told CNN that the majority of people infected with the disease are children under the age of five and women.

Prof. Gervais Ondobo Andze, the director of disease control at the Ministry of Public Health, told journalists Monday that nine of the country's 10 regions are affected by cholera, an intestinal infection caused by ingestion of bacteria-contaminated food or water. It causes watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if not treated promptly. About 80 percent of cases can be cured by rehydrating the patient, according to the World Health Organization.

Andze told CNN Tuesday the government has opened treatment centers across the country and medical supplies have been dispatched to them all, but he emphasized that the battle against the disease must be a collective effort from both the government and the local population. (more)