June 12, 2006

Sudan cholera outbreak reaches war-torn Darfur

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A cholera outbreak in Sudan has spread
to the war-torn western Darfur region, posing a serious threat
to the 2.5 million living in squalid camps in cramped
conditions, a U.N. statement said.

Cholera spreads rapidly in close-knit populations. An
outbreak which began in late January in south Sudan has killed
at least 516 people among more than 13,800 cases, affecting six
of the 10 southern states.

"The World Health Organization (WHO) in Nyala (south
Darfur) confirmed 65 cases of acute watery diarrhea," said a
U.N. statement sent late on Sunday.

Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection
of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

The statement said an aid agency had confirmed one cholera
fatality in Gereida, in southeast Darfur, where almost 100,000
people have fled their homes to seek safety in the town.

"WHO issued an alert warning on the cholera outbreak," the
statement added.

Three years of rape, pillage and murder in Darfur has
herded much of the population to crowded urban centres away
from rural villages. Scarce food supplies, a lack of healthcare
and the upcoming rainy season make them more vulnerable to the
water-borne disease.

Cholera causes vomiting and acute diarrhea that can lead to
rapid dehydration and death within 24 hours if not treated.