Sudan's health ministry is distributing chlorine to sterilise water, repairing latrines and spraying insecticides to try to stop the spread of cholera and malaria after the worst floods in living memory.
Health ministry officials in the eastern Gedaref state said the total number of cases to date was 763, with 53 deaths. The World Health Organisation said the fatality rate was very high at 6-7 percent.
Sudan had appeared reluctant to announce a cholera outbreak, but a Sudanese health ministry report obtained by Reuters said 70 percent of samples of acute watery diarrhoea from the affected area had tested positive for cholera.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection spread by contaminated water or food. It causes vomiting and acute diarrhoea that can lead to dehydration and death within 24 hours, which if not treated can cause death within hours.
Officials in east Sudan said they were trying to educate people to clean their water, but it was not easy because of the floods and a lack of awareness. Some people also object to the taste and smell of chlorinated water.
"There is no safe water available or accessible for all the people of the locality," said Gedaref Health Minister Mustafa el-Sayed el-Khaleel.
More than 70 people have been killed and 70,000 houses destroyed by floods this year as rivers burst their banks and heavy rains sparked flash floods. Morerains are expected.
Officials said the government has set up seven "cholera treatment centres" in the east, and appealed for more international aid agencies to help in the region, one of the poorest in Sudan.
- Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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