Iraq says cholera outbreak under control after kills four

BAGHDAD Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:08am EDT

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BAGHDAD Oct 14 (Reuters) - Iraqi authorities said a cholera outbreak that killed four people had been controlled, blaming contaminated water in a country still struggling with dilapidated infrastructure.

The victims were mostly in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, where another 272 people were confirmed with the illness, Kurdistan's Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed said on Sunday.

"We can say the epidemic is under control and the situation has returned to normal," Rasheed said in a statement.

Cholera is not uncommon in Iraq. In 2007 at least 24 people died and more than 4,000 cases were diagnosed with the illness. The country's water and sewerage systems are outdated and its infrastructure development has been hindered by years of war and neglect.

The minister said the source of the cholera was polluted water mainly from a dam and a well in Sulaimaniya province.

Iraq's central government health minister, Majeed Hamad Amin, said cholera cases appeared every three or four years mostly because of polluted water from unsafe sources.

Another 15 people were diagnosed with the disease in Kirkuk.

Cholera is characterised in its most severe form by a sudden onset of acute watery diarrhoea that can sometimes cause death by severe dehydration and kidney failure within hours. It is mainly transmitted through contaminated water and food. (Reporting by Aseel Kami; Editing by Patrick Markey and Alison Williams)

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