TANZANIA: Cholera kills four in northern districts

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
A butchery in Arusha: Four people have died of cholera, spread by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated, in the northern Tanzanian region of Mara
DAR ES SALAAM, 10 September 2008 (IRIN) - Four people have died of cholera and dozens were admitted to health centres in the northern Tanzanian region of Mara, according to health officials. Mara Regional Medical Officer Stephen Kebwe said four patients died in the first week of September in Tarime district, which borders Kenya. "Doctors and nurses have been deployed to the affected areas .. the situation has now greatly improved," Kebwe said. Cholera is an acute illness characterized by watery diarrhea that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The disease is spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacteria. Contamination usually occurs when human feces from a person who has the disease seeps into a community water supply. Fruit and vegetables can also be contaminated in areas where crops are fertilized with human feces. Cholera bacteria also live in warm, brackish water and can infect persons who eat raw or undercooked seafood obtained from such waters. Kebwe said cholera cases were first reported in Tarime on August 16, 2008. The officer said so far 180 cases have been reported in Tarime and Rorya districts. Kebwe said 164 cases were treated at various health centres and discharged. Kebwe said 16 patients were still admitted at health centres in the two district until Wednesday morning. Massive campaigns, he said, against cholera were being conducted in the area. He said people were being urged to observe hygienic rules strictly.