Cholera kills 81 in Niger

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently reported that cholera outbreaks exacerbated by recent flooding have led to the deaths of at least 81 people in Niger.

The flooding alone was responsible for a further 81 deaths throughout the country. OCHA said that more than 500,000 people in Niger have been affected negatively by the bad weather, according to AFP.

The cholera outbreaks have centered in the country's western Tillaberi regions near the border with Mali. The waterborne illness has infected nearly 4,000 people, mainly in four areas lying near the Niger River.

The flooding has caused water levels to rise in the capital of Niamey and refugees are now being housed in mosques and public buildings. The Niger government decided to postpone the beginning of the school year from October 17 until October 27 because schools have filled rapidly with those seeking shelter.

"The number of cholera cases continues to increase [and] the...situation remains worrying with the arrival of the rainy season," OCHA said, reports.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Though mainly absent from industrialized nations, there are an estimated three to five million cases and more than 100,000 deaths caused by the illness every year.