African cholera outbreak kills 2,000

Officials with the World Health Organization have reported that the recent wave of cholera sweeping across Africa has caused as many as 2,000 deaths.

WHO officials report that, as of October 3, there have been 40,468 reported cases of cholera and 1,879 reported cholera deaths in four countries, including Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. The outbreaks started a few months ago, officials said.

A WHO spokesperson said seasonal factors, like the rainy season with heavy flooding, has played a role in the spread of the disease. The spokesperson also said that poor hygiene conditions and population movements in the regions have contributed to the unusually high incidence rate of cholera.

WHO officials said they have teamed up with international and national health partners to try to provide technical help and backup to the ministries of health in the four affected countries. One goal, officials said, is to strengthen surveillance activities. Supplies for the case management and chlorination of water have also been dispatched to some of the affected areas, WHO officials reported.

A Cholera Command and Control Center has been set up in Maroua, Cameroon, by the Ministry of Health with the support from WHO. The role of the center is to provide technical coordination for partners in the areas of epidemiological and laboratory surveillance, case management, social mobilization, logistics and infection control/water and sanitation in treatment centers. The system should also provide immediate alerts of new outbreaks, officials said.