Cholera fears for Iraq and Syria

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Nearly 2,000 cases of cholera and two deaths have been reported in 15 of 18 Iraqi governorates, WHO says. Photo: WHO/Pauline Loyce Ajello

A massive cholera vaccination campaign starts this week in Iraq, UN health experts announced Tuesday, while warning of the need to be on "high alert" for an outbreak of the disease in Syria.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has registered nearly 2,000 cases of infection in Iraq, where two people have also died after contracting the disease.

In Syria, meanwhile, the alarm's been raised after a five-year-old boy died in the province of Aleppo, although it has yet to be confirmed that cholera was the cause.

Daniel Johnson has more.

No less than 500,000 doses of vaccine are to be used in Iraq in coming days as UN health experts work alongside the authorities to stop the spread of cholera.

Already identified in 15 out of 18 Iraqi governorates, where there have been nearly 2,000 cases of cholera and two deaths, the disease is highly contagious, and lethal in a matter of hours, if not treated quickly.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier described the vaccination programme in Iraq as a "strategic" operation.

"This is of course not enough to vaccinate everybody, but this will be a strategic vaccination to block in a vaccination term, the path of the cholera."

In Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there's also a need to be on "high alert" after the suspected death from cholera of a five-year-old boy north of Aleppo.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 0'52"



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