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Cholera Outbreak In West, Central Africa 'One Of The Biggest Epidemics' In Region's History, Says UNICEF

According to UNICEF, a cholera outbreak in West and Central Africa “has claimed almost 2,500 lives … [w]ith more than 85,000 cases of cholera reported this year in 10 countries from Mali to Congo,” the Associated Press/CBS News reports (Freeman, 10/11). “‘The size and the scale of the outbreaks mean the region is facing one of the biggest epidemics in its history,’ UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told a news briefing in Geneva” on Tuesday, according to Reuters (Nebehay, 10/11). Mercado added that “above-average rainfall predicted for the coming weeks increases the likelihood that cholera will continue to spread,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes (10/11).

“UNICEF has been providing treatment kits, conducting awareness campaigns and assisting with surveys” to aid those in need of assistance, but “fatality rates remain unacceptably high, ranging from 2.3 percent to 4.7 percent and reaching much higher levels in countries such as Cameroon,” the U.N. News Centre writes (10/11). According to Reuters, “Aid agencies say that with proper treatment, fewer than one percent of cholera patients should die” (10/11).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.