May 23, 2006

Cholera outbreak kills at least 500 in south Sudan

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - More than 500 people have died in a
cholera outbreak in southern Sudan where two-thirds of the
population drink unclean water, the World Health Organization
(WHO) said on Tuesday.

Southern Sudan's towns are overflowing as hundreds of
thousands of people return home after a peace deal signed last
year to end more than two decades of civil war. Living in
crowded, unsanitary conditions, diseases like cholera and
meningitis are spreading fast.

An outbreak of acute watery diarrhea began in late January
and the first cases of cholera were confirmed in February.
Since then, it has spread to six of the 10 southern states.

Cholera is a water-borne disease which causes vomiting and
acute diarrhea that can lead to rapid dehydration and death
within 24 hours if not treated swiftly.

Until May 5 there were 516 deaths and 13,852 cases of acute
watery diarrhea, WHO said in a statement on Tuesday. It was
unclear how many of those cases tested positive for cholera.

U.N. agencies are distributing jerry cans, chlorine and
soap to try to prevent the spread of the outbreak.