Cholera epidemic sweeping west and central Africa

A cholera epidemic sweeping through west and central Africa, thought to be one of the region’s most severe, has claimed the lives of nearly 2,500 people and infected more than 85,000.

United Nations aid agencies recently released the figures on the effects of the disease, which appears to be spreading along waterways and between and within countries, causing what have been described by officials as an “unacceptably high” rate of casualties, according to Reuters.

"The size and the scale of the outbreaks mean the region is facing one of the biggest epidemics in its history," UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado said, Reuters reports.

The cholera outbreak in Chad is the largest ever recorded in that country. Nine out of 10 districts in Cameroon have reported cases. Additionally, the casualty rate is above five percent in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organization reported that 90 percent of the cases from the outbreak are in five countries - Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Deaths, however, have been reported from the disease in at least 20 countries.

UNICEF reported that the outbreaks began independently of one another outside the normal cholera season and were given a boost when higher rainfall than normal hit coastal areas.