Guinea: At least 30 people die of cholera, health officials urge vigilance

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

CONAKRY, 11 July (IRIN) - A cholera outbreak in Guinea has killed at least 30 people since the start of the rainy season in late April, the head of the government's disease prevention unit said on Monday.

Emmanuel-Roland Malano said the water-borne illness had infected 377 people in central and western areas of the country, with the first case showing up in Daara, a district in the south central Fouta Diallon, from which it is an 100-km trek to the nearest health centre.

Once the first case broke, cholera spread to at least 230 people throughout the district Daara - about 15 percent of the population, Malano said.

The infection, which causes violent diarrhoea and vomiting, rapidly dehydrating the body, has also struck in the capital, Conakry, some 350 km away. More than 100 cholera cases have been detected in the capital, the health ministry official said.

The prefectures of Forecariah and Dubreka in the south-west have also reported cases.

Guinea's Health Minister Amara Cisse went on state radio and television last week to declare the cholera outbreak. He attributed the spread of the disease to poor sanitation facilities and residents relying on dirty streams and rivers for their drinking water.

Health ministry officials met aid organisations including Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organisation to coordinate a response to the outbreak.

Barbara Maccagno, the medical coordinator for MSF-Swiss in Guinea, said they were watching conditions and preparing to respond if necessary.

"At the moment the situation is not alarming, but given that it is the rainy season we must be vigilant," she told IRIN.

Conakry and other parts of Guinea have seen record rains in recent days that have resulted in flash floods.

The Guinean government is running an awareness campaign using radio and television adverts and is deploying health personnel to rural areas to man satellite treatment clinics, Malano said.

Cholera has struck countries around the West Africa region as the rainy season swings into action. Mali, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau have also reported serious outbreaks in the last two months.


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