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Cholera kills 40 in Malawi as infections spread

Written by: Staff
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BLANTYRE, Mar 16 (Reuters) Cholera has killed 40 people and infected more than 4,000 others in Malawi, with infections doubling from last month and spreading to more parts of the impoverished country, officials today said.

Deputy Health Minister Charles Mchacha said Malawi had posted 4,157 new infections against 2,265 at the end of February and that 16 more people had died on top of 24 deaths recorded over the previous three months.

Blantyre, the southern African nation's commercial hub, and the capital Lilongwe are the hardest hit regions, he told Reuters, adding the disease was spreading from the south into central and northern Malawi.

''The disease is still attacking more people with Lilongwe and Blantyre recording high figures, and recent data shows that the disease is spreading to other parts of the country despite efforts to contain it,'' he said.

The outbreak began late last year following a drought and subsequent severe food shortages that have left nearly half of Malawi's estimated 12 million people hungry. The crisis is particularly bad in the southern province.

Last month health officials said that hungry people scrambling for food without washing it could be one reason for the increasing number of infections.

Cholera, which typically causes severe diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration is usually not fatal when treated promptly.

The government in cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has set up mobile clinics in affected districts and sent drugs to curb the spread of the disease.

REUTERS SY BS1948

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