TEHRAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) Iran today said it had 43 cholera cases, four times more than previously announced, and added they were mostly near Iraq where there has been an outbreak of the disease, an Iranian news agency reported.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) official said on Thursday 10 cases had been confirmed in Iran. WHO has urged neighbours of Iraq, where cholera has struck more than 3,300 people since mid-August, to strengthen their defences against the disease.
Iran shares a long border with Iraq. Many Iraqi refugees have fled to Iran to escape violence at home, while Iranian Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims often cross into Iraq to visit holy sites there.
''The total number of confirmed cholera cases has reached 43, most of them identified in (Iran's western) Kurdistan province among those who used to frequently cross the Iraqi border,'' Health Ministry official Mohsen Zahraie was quoted as saying.
The report, carried by Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency, did not give further details about those suffering.
The virulent disease is characterised by a sudden onset of acute watery diarrhoea that in severe cases can cause death by dehydration and kidney failure within hours. It is transmitted mainly through contaminated water and food.
Iran's Health Ministry said in September it was ready to combat the spread of the disease and said the situation was under control but it also urged people not to travel to Iraq as a precaution.
REUTERS SKB PM1930