Cholera in Papua New Guinea9th February 2010
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that a cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea has now spread to 2,000 people.
The disease is mainly spreading through the country's municipal water supplies. Cholera is mainly a water-borne disease, though it can become food-borne.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, and severe dehydration.
The outbreak, which first emerged in Papua New Guinea last July, is gradually becoming a serious public health issue.
WHO representative Eigil Sorensen said that he and his colleagues had observed the gradual spread of the disease, and that there were more than 2,000 confirmed cases so far.
He said that while the current death toll was less than 50 people, there had not been any containment of the disease because some of the country's crowded slums provided ideal conditions for the disease to spread, and that it would eventually become endemic unless the government stepped in.
The current outbreak is the island's first cholera outbreak in 50 years.
The disease has currently spread from northern Morobe province along the north coast of the island to the provinces of Madang and East Sepik.
In East Sepik, water shortages could hasten the progression of the outbreak.
The WHO recently confirmed that East Sepik's main river was contaminated with Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria which cause cholera.
In the past four months, 16 people there have died of the disease, with hundreds more infected.
Andrew Rankin, an Oxfam project manager in charge of East Sepik, said that the province's current lack of rainfall is causing a water shortage problem that will be very difficult to fix.
Some of the most severe types of cholera are so deadly that they can kill people within several hours of infection.
However, more common types of the disease may take up to several days to kill people if they are left untreated.
Most of the world's cholera deaths currently occur in Africa.
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Title: Cholera in Papua New Guinea
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 14006
Date Added: 9th Feb 2010