Cholera kills one, infects six in Iraq: official

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Seven cases of cholera have been diagnosed in Iraq in the past two days, including one fatality, a senior health official said on Sunday.

Scarcity of water during Iraq’s scorching summer forces more people to drink water from unsafe sources, the official said. More than 4,000 cases of cholera, which can kill victims with sudden severe diarrhea, were diagnosed in Iraq last year.

Iraq’s General Director of Public Health Ihsan Jaafar said as long as there was scarcity of water, cholera would remain a problem.

A boy died in southern Maysan province, five of the infected are from the Abu Ghraib district of western Baghdad and one from Rusafa in the east of the city.

Last year’s outbreak, in which at least 24 died, was mostly in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya.

Cholera is characterized in its most severe form by a sudden onset of acute watery diarrhea that can cause death by severe dehydration and kidney failure within hours.

It is mainly transmitted through contaminated water and food. Water and sewage treatment is a perennial challenge in Iraq, where an overhaul of decrepit public works has been hindered by years of war and neglect.

Jaafar said the Health Ministry was trying to control cholera’s spread by early diagnosis of infection, distributing water sterilization tablets and through a public awareness campaign.

Reporting by Aseel Kami: Editing by Janet Lawrence