KANO (AFP) – Cholera has killed 50 people in northwest Nigeria in the past week, health officials said Monday, in the latest outbreak of the disease which has claimed thousands of lives across the country since 2010.
The latest infections struck Zamfara state where residents began drinking water directly from streams and untreated wells after a main water pipeline was forced to shut.
“We have recorded an outbreak of cholera in the past one week in six local government areas of the state which has resulted in the death of 50 people while several others have been hospitalised,” Zamfara state health commissioner Kabiru Janyau told AFP.
Road construction around state capital Gusau forced officials to close a main pump leading to water shortages in several parts of the state, Janyau said.
“People have turned to streams and open wells for drinking water which led to the outbreak,” he said.
Cholera, a highly contagious intestinal infection, is transmitted by water soiled by human waste. The disease leads to diarrhoea, dehydration and death if untreated.
Nigeria suffered cholera epidemics during the rainy seasons of 2010 and 2011, with nearly 2,000 people killed over two years.
While 2012 saw few reported infections, health officials warn that Nigeria remains vulnerable to further outbreaks because of its high population density and poor sanitation in many areas.
Outbreaks are most common during the rainy season, which roughly runs from April to October.
Eight people died and ten others were hospitalised from cholera infections in southern Oyo state last month.