Cholera spreading in DRC
Johannesburg - A cholera epidemic has spread to nine out of 11 provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The UN said the spread was "worrisome" as the epidemic had so far killed 644 people and infected 26 000 since January 2011.
"Lack of access to potable water remains the single most important cause of the recurrent cholera outbreaks," according to a research note from the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).
OCHA cited the example of the north-eastern city of Bunia, where over a third of the residents - more than 100 000 people - have been cut off from drinking water since the start of the year.
Conflict in the northern parts of the country continues to displace thousands of people.
In neighbouring Republic of Congo, an official this week said there have been more than 340 cholera cases in recent months, and several people have died from the water-borne disease.
If left untreated the bacterial disease can be lethal, but patients usually regain full health when they receive early medical attention and oral rehydration solutions.