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Cholera epidemic rages
Posted Wed, 29 Jun 2005

The cholera epidemic sweeping Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, recently became more serious with over 300 new cases reported, said Tome Ca, the government's Director General of Health.

The outbreak began over two weeks ago. Ca said 602 cases of the highly infectious water-borne disease had been reported - an increase from 290 four days earlier.

Local hospitals were receiving about 50 new cholera cases each day, but the epidemic had not spread to the interior of this small West African country. Seven people have died but recently there were no new deaths.

This is the first cholera epidemic to hit Bissau for three years. It coincides with the start of the rainy season, which has polluted wells of 300,000 people in the city and made the quality of drinking water in its leaky pipes unhygenic.

Cholera results from polluted drinking water and poor sanitation. It causes rapid dehydration of the body through acute diarrhoea and vomiting, and can be fatal.

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