Cholera epidemic kills 20 in Côte d'Ivoire
Hospital sources on Wednesday attributed the outbreak to lack of sanitation and overcrowding, particularly in the towns of Zuenoula and Tiebissou, located 300-km and 350 km north of Abidjan.
The two towns have recorded eight and nine deaths, respectively between 3 February and 16 March.
Ivorian health authorities have urged the population to shun drinking water packed in bags or beverages of dubious origin being sold in the streets of Abidjan and other Ivorian urban centres.
They also urged populations to disinfect patients' linen and clothes using a chlorine solution or boiling them in the wards they are hospitalised. Health officials also advised people to wash fruits and vegetables with bleach for 30 minutes to kill germs.
Meanwhile, Dr Guy Mayet of the National Institute of Public Hygiene in Abidjan urged the population to observe hygienic conditions to avoid contracting cholera, whose microbe is often found in excrements.
"Someone who does not wash his or her hands after visiting the toilets is prone to cholera. If people defecate in the open and children play in rain water which washes away the excrements, they will be prone to cholera," Mayet explained.
In 2002, a cholera epidemic killed some 50 people in Côte d'Ivoire, while more than 1,000 cases were reported.