An outbreak of cholera in the three neighbouring West African countries of Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger has infected nearly 4,000 people and killed more than 260 others since May, the United Nations health agency reported today, blaming the epidemic on poor hygiene and inadequate access to clean water.
Northern Cameroon, where more than 2,800 cases " including more than 200 deaths " have been reported, is the worst affected area in the Lake Chad Basin, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
In Nigeria, some 830 cases and 30 deaths have been reported, while 240 cases and 16 deaths have occurred in Niger.
We know that cholera is [a] food-borne disease. Food that has been in contact with contaminated water is, of course, at high risk of transmitting cholera to people, " said Claire-Lise Chaignat, WHO`s cholera coordinator. Good food hygiene is actually very important for preventing the disease from spreading, " she told UN Radio.
Ms. Chaignat said WHO and the UN Children`s Fund (UNICEF) were working together to combat the cholera epidemic, providing those affected with oral rehydration salts to prevent deaths related to diarrhoea, distributing chlorine for water treatment and carrying out health education campaigns.