Iraqi authorities on high cholera alert

Baghdad, Sep 21 (IANS) Iraqi authorities are taking strict measures to contain the outbreak of cholera in the country after the death of four people, officials said on Monday.

“The Iraqi ministry of health started a plan aimed at controlling the spread of disease by closely monitoring the situation and implementing cholera contingency measures, distributing medicines and supplies to hospitals and medical centers in areas where the disease spreads,” a ministry spokesman told Xinhua news agency.

“So far, we have 58 confirmed cholera cases out of 164 diagnosed in Abu Ghraib, including four women who died a few days ago,” Othman Adil, mayor of Abu Ghraib area, some 20 km west of Baghdad, said.

Adil attributed the spread of cholera to the poor quality of drinking water, in addition to the lack of hygiene and health awareness in general.

Hassan Hadi, the head of the health department in the health ministry, said “most of the cholera cases were detected in Abu Ghraib area, and there are two cases in Zaafaraniyah district in southeastern Baghdad and one case in Karrada, in addition to 10 cases in the city of Najaf and three others in Babil province.”

Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi outlined a package of measures to confront the situation, including daily water tests in rivers and water purification facilities in affected areas, in addition to distributing bottled water to people in Abu Ghraib area, where thousands of displaced families from Anbar province live after the Islamic State (IS) militant group captured large parts of the region.

Cholera, one of the most deadly diseases, is a highly contagious water-borne disease which causes copious, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and even death if not treated promptly.

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