Mali

Mali: Cholera outbreak spreads death toll rises to 106

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ABIDJAN, 18 December (IRIN) - The death toll from a cholera outbreak that has swept through the Niger river valley in Mali since early November has reached 106, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
WHO quoted officials of Mali's Ministry of Health as saying that 1,216 cases of cholera and 106 deaths had been reported by 12 December, giving a fatality rate of 8.72 percent.

Most of the cases were recorded in and around the towns of Bamako, Koulikoro, Segou, Mopti and Timbuktu near the Niger River. But WHO said in its latest update on the cholera outbreak that cases had also started appearing recently in the Sikasso region, near the southern border with Cote d'Ivoire.

It said cholera appeared to be declining around Koulikoro and Segou, to the east of the capital Bamako, but that the disease had not yet been brought under control in Mopti, further to the north.

"Last week, there were 55 cases and five deaths recorded in Mopti," Dr Paul Ngwakum, Medical Coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-Luxemburg in Mali told IRIN.

He said wells in the area were being treated with disinfectant and MSF and other health agencies were providing rehydration kits to treat cholera patients. "We are distributing packets of medicines for people to put in their water before use," he said.

A team from WHO Global Task Force on Cholera Control has been assisting Mali's Ministry of Health, assessing the safety of the water supplies, carrying out surveillance activities and providing additional supplies. It is collaborating with MSF and Medecins du Monde who are providing technical assistance and medical supplies.

The first cholera cases were reported in Mali in early November following unusually heavy rains which caused widespread flooding. The number of cases has since increased steadily putting nearly a million people living along the Niger River at risk.

In mid-November, MSF-Luxemburg flew in medical equipment and staff to help curb the outbreak. It also flew in cholera treatment kits from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Cote d'Ivoire.

Cholera is an accute form of diarrhoea which is spread through contaminated water and poor hygiene. It causes rapid dehydration of the body and can be fatal unless treated quickly.

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