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Cholera death toll nearing 500, says WHO

Latest update : 2008-12-03

The World Health Organization said the victims of the latest cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe had reached 473 since August, after government sources had put the death toll at 425 with a further 11,000 cases of contamination.

AFP - Cholera has killed 473 people in Zimbabwe in  the latest outbreak of the disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Harare said in a report, a copy of which was received Tuesday.

"A large cholera outbreak is affecting most regions of the country, with more than 11,700 cases and 473 deaths recorded between August and November 30," Custodia Mandlhate, of the WHO's Zimbabwe office, wrote in the report.

"This represents a case fatality rate (CFR) of 4.0 percent nationally, but reached 50 percent in some areas during the early stages of the outbreak. The CFR benchmark should be below one percent," the statement said.

It warned that the fatality rate "may rapidly escalate in populations without rapid access to simple treatments."

Zimbabwe Health Minister David Parirenyatwa had said on Sunday that the official death toll stood at 425 with 11,071 cases.

The United Nations warned on Friday that the water-borne disease was also spreading into neighbouring Botswana and South Africa.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that a total of 9,908 cases had been recorded in the impoverished southern African country.

"The cholera outbreak has strained Zimbabwe's overburdened health care system and resulted in a nationwide shortage of medicines and other materials  for treatment, aggravating the scarcity of health care providers and the poor access to overall care," WHO said.

Date created : 2008-12-02