Sunday, May 3, 2009

SUDAN: Cholera kills three in Jonglei State

JUBA, 30 April 2009 (IRIN) - Three people have been reported dead in a cholera outbreak in Jonglei State, Southern Sudan, an official said.

"Three have died this week from cholera, and a total of 194 are suffering from acute watery diarrhoea, including 110 children below the age of five," said John Lagu, director of communicable diseases surveillance at the Southern Sudan health ministry.

"They are receiving treatment, but there are clear concerns that this could escalate," Lagu said. "We are monitoring the situation and will provide all help needed, whatever they may request."

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-Belgium, he added, was providing treatment to those affected on the ground.

Pibor area, where the outbreak occurred, was the scene of heavy clashes between ethnic groups in March, in which some 750 people were killed. Unconfirmed reports said several victims’ bodies were left in standing water, and these had helped spread the contagious disease.

"We cannot be sure until a full investigation is carried out on the ground," Lagu said. "But the destruction there was very bad."

Swine flu

Meanwhile, the Southern Sudan health ministry has urged the public to exercise caution because of the global outbreak of swine flu. The government, a ministry statement said, was providing health care workers at all levels with information to identify and address swine flu should it appear.

The government was also helping officials to identify and report suspected cases, but said there did "not appear to be significant risk" to people in Southern Sudan.

"Nonetheless, the government of Southern Sudan urges the public to exercise caution and report any unusual cases of flu-like illness, particularly in large international centres such as Juba," the 29 April statement said.