- The cholera outbreak in south-eastern Africa is still spreading rapidly and health authorities in Mozambique and Zambia have already registered a total of 5500 confirmed cases. Worst hit is the Mozambican capital of Maputo, where 140 new cases are reported in on a daily basis.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) today reported that the cholera outbreak in Mozambique and Zambia is causing an increased number of victims. A total of 89 people have died in the two countries, as the outbreak still spreads.
In Mozambique, the Ministry of Health has reported a total of 3699 cases and 19 deaths between 20 December 2003 and 20 January 2004. The outbreak is confined to three southern provinces - Maputo, Gaza and Sofala - although there also are reports of a northwards spread of the disease.
Maputo province, including the national capital, is the most affected, with an average of 140 cases per day occurring in Maputo city. Poor access to clean drinking water is seen as the main source of the rapid spread of the disease.
A cholera emergency was declared by the Mozambican Ministry of Health on 9 January. WHO and other agencies, including UNICEF, Médecins sans Frontières, World Food Programme and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), are now supporting local health authorities in containing the outbreak.
In Zambia, meanwhile, the cholera outbreak has not yet infected as many people as in neighbouring Mozambique. The death toll is nevertheless much higher and WHO has registered a fatality rate 4.06 percent among the infected, which is an extraordinary high number.
As of 22 January, the Zambian Ministry of Health has reported 1721 cholera cases including 70 deaths in Lusaka district, especially in peri-urban areas of Lusaka, Zambia's capital city, which were recently affected by floods.
The outbreak started on 28 November last year and has spread to four other provinces - Southern, Copperbelt, Northern and Central. It is not believed that the Zambian cholera outbreak is related to the older one in Mozambique, but is due to contamination of sources of drinking water in the capital and provincial areas.
- There is a high risk of further spread to other parts of the country, WHO officials warned today. Zambian health authorities however already have implemented measures to control the outbreak. More supplies for treatment were needed, WHO however pointed out.
The last cholera outbreak in Zambia was only registered in April and May last year. Within less than one month, Lusaka authorities reported 68 cholera cases, including 3 deaths, in Nchelenge district. Also last year's cholera outbreak in Zambia had a noteworthy high case-fatality rate.
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