Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Cholera in Iraq - Update

13 May 2003

Disease Outbreak Reported

Four cases of cholera have been confirmed in samples taken from cases in 3 hospitals in Basra. The tests were performed by a Public Health Laboratory in Kuwait.

The risk of waterborne epidemics is very high because of the lack of safe water and poor sanitation. Experts are concerned about the spread of many other pathogens such as Shigella dysenteriae which can cause large outbreaks. Repair and maintenance of the water supply system is ongoing and security is being upgraded to protect these facilities. Dissemination of health education messages in communities is also essential to control the outbreak.

WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel or trade to be taken against Iraq. As the outbreak is related to the lack of access to safe water, neighbouring countries which are not facing the same difficulties should not be affected.

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