Red Cross warns of cholera in Sierra Leone

On Thursday, the Red Cross warned that funds are urgently needed to aid in containing what is being called Sierra Leone's largest cholera epidemic in decades.

To date, the outbreak has killed at least 271 people, reports.

"Although the cholera numbers are now stabilizing...this is not the time to pull back," Amanda McClelland, an emergency health advisor for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, according to

McClelland said, however, that cholera cases were still spreading in districts and distant villages near the Liberian border.

Since the start of the year, 18,919 cases of cholera have been reported in Sierra Leone, according to William Augusto Perea Caro, the World Health Organization's coordinator for the control of epidemic diseases.

"It is the largest epidemic we have had of cholera in Africa this year," Caro said, reports.

The disease's spread has been blamed on living conditions and poor hygiene and not, as is usually the case, on the rainy season that begins in June or July.

Freetown, which has been the hardest hit cities in Sierra Leone, is now only reporting 1,000 new cases per week, down from a high of 2,000 per week in August.