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Two new cholera outbreaks in hunger-stricken southern Niger could threaten neighboring Nigeria and are particularly dangerous because of the vulnerable state of the area's population, the U.N. health agency said Friday.
GENEVA (AP)--Two new cholera outbreaks in hunger-stricken southern Niger could threaten neighboring Nigeria and are particularly dangerous because of the vulnerable state of the area's population, the U.N. health agency said Friday.
Over the last week, 17 new cases of cholera - of which four were deadly - have been reported in two southern districts of Niger, the World Health Organization said.
"We do not want these cases spreading because you have more vulnerable people than normally," said WHO spokeswoman Christine McNab. "Any cholera outbreak you want to contain quickly as you don't want to see it spread further over borders."
The new outbreaks are particularly worrying because weakened and malnourished people are more susceptible to the disease, the spread of which is encouraged by poor sanitary conditions and dirty drinking water, McNab said.
An estimated 3.6 million people are suffering from hunger in sub-Saharan Niger, which faces a severe food crisis after its crops were ravaged by drought and locusts.
Niger's new cholera cases follow an earlier outbreak in mid-July, when 108 people fell ill and 11 died in the district of Bouza.
Cholera is a major killer in developing countries. The bacterium attacks the intestine and causes life-threatening diarrhea and dehydration, but can be easily treated if patients are rehydrated quickly.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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