Cholera death toll in Nigeria rises to 283

The death toll from cholera and a related disease in northern Nigerian has risen to 283 from 231 within a week, according to various official figures.

The figure of those infected by cholera in the past two weeks has also risen above 5,000 from the earlier 4,600 figure announced last week, according to officials.

The latest outbreak was recorded in north-eastern Yobe State where 42 people died in the past week from a disease health officials said was a form of gastro-enteritis, characterised by vomiting and diarrhoea, which are also cholera symptoms.

"We have recorded an outbreak of gastro-enteritis in Yobe State in the last week which has killed 42 people and infected 443 others," Isa Adamu, an official of the World Health Organisation said.

Watery stool and vomiting

"The disease has to do with watery stool and vomiting which physically looks like cholera, but we do not have the reagents in Yobe State for laboratory analysis to confirm if it is cholera."

"What is certain is that it was caused by water contamination," Adamu said. Cholera has also killed at least four people in a village in Kaduna State in the past week as a result of contamination of open wells, state health commissioner Charity Shekari told AFP.

In neighbouring Katsina State, the disease killed six people and infected 50 others in the last week, according to Bishir Babba, a local official.

It can be fatal

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said 231 people had died of cholera while 4,600 others were infected in some states, particularly in the north with Borno, Bauchi and Adamawa being worst hit.

Cholera, a water-borne disease, causes serious diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to dehydration. With a short incubation period, it can be fatal if not treated in time.

Health experts say a surge in cholera outbreaks is noticeable in Nigerian villages in the rainy season, when rainwater washes dirt into open wells and ponds which most villages rely on for drinking. (Sapa/ August 2010)

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