Skip to comments.Cholera Epidemic Infects 7,000 People in Iraq
Posted on 09/12/2007 12:10:33 AM PDT by neverdem
BAGHDAD, Sept. 11 A cholera epidemic in northern Iraq has infected approximately 7,000 people and could reach Baghdad within weeks as the disease spreads through the countrys decrepit and unsanitary water system, Iraqi health officials said Tuesday.
The World Health Organization reported that the epidemic is concentrated in the northern regions of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniya and that 10 people are known to have died. But Dr. Said Hakki, president of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, a relief organization that has responded to the epidemic, said that new cases had turned up in the neighboring provinces, Erbil and Nineveh, indicating that the disease had spread.
Most significant, Dr. Hakki said, were two cases in a village on the border between Kirkuk and Diyala Provinces, one involving a young girl. Baghdad is next to Diyala.
Because of that geographic spread, Dr. Hakki said, health officials at the Red Crescent estimate that cases will begin turning up in Baghdad in late September or early October, when temperatures are especially favorable for the growth of the bacteria Vibrio cholerae, which causes the disease by infecting the intestine.
Dr. Cerko Abdulla, chief of the Sulaimaniya health directorate, also said that the epidemic had begun spreading in adjacent provinces. The water system represents the main problem, he said. The disease can spread widely through water, and thats a very serious matter.
In Baghdad, Iraqs deputy health minister, Dr. Adel Mohsin, said that he was not aware of any cases on the Diyala border. But he said that further spread of the epidemic was very likely unless government agencies followed strict guidelines on water testing and maintaining sufficient levels of chlorination, which kills the bacteria.
In a chilling reminder of how difficult it may be to maintain those levels, Dr. Mohsin said that chlorine imports had...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
micro ping from a minor story of the NY Times’ frontpage, FWIW
Cholera is bad stuff. The NY Slimes is worse!
The entire infrastructure has been crumbling for years, while Saddam lived in luxury. I guess the NYT is looking for someone else to blame. Guess who...
I thought that too, but cholera happens when infrastructure collapses as well.
My first thought was a type of WMD too. Given the area in question of initial outbreak and recent skirmishes with Iran?
But agree it could be the result of the collapse of the infrastructure due to neglect by Saddam and the warlords of the people.
If I were trying to contaminate water supplies, I would use botulinum toxin, which is far more potent and cannot be removed by simple purification procedures.
Sorry, this is simply an epidemic, which occurs commonly when sanitation practices and infrastructure fail. Nothing sinister.
Having said that, 7000 cases of cholera, even in a country with modern medical facilities, could overwhelm medical capacity quickly.
What about treatment? I know nothing about it, so these may be stupid questions — but what treatments are available? do standard antibiotics work? what’s the cure rate?
Untreated mortality is 50%. Treated, less than 1%. Oral rehydration works almost as well as IV and can be lifesaving in medically underserved areas.
I believe that would not work well in water because the microbe that produces it can only flourish under anaerobic conditions.
Toxin, not the organism. Purified Botulinum toxin only takes a gram to kill millions of people.
Looks like they haven't had a cholera outbreak this bad in Iraq in quite a while....
Cholera Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response (EPR)
FWIW, I hope someone is checking just to make sure the bug isn't getting some help.
I have a medic friend in Iraq, near this area. According to him, they believe the Cholera is not being caused by the water treatment system, but because many don’t have access to this water.
They try to find their own water supplies, which are being contaminated by the large number of refugees. At least that is their theory so far. The epidemic is spreading because there are many who are malnourished and living under pretty awful conditions. He says they are busy, but fine so far, with plenty of tetracycline, and deliverable potable water. They are working 24/7 on locating the source of the problem, and educating the population on ways to avoid and treat infection.
Glad to hear the people are getting good treatment.
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