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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 10:42 GMT
Cholera reaches Congo's capital
Doctor treating cholera victim (Pic: Paco Arevalo, MSF)
Cholera can spread quickly in overcrowded areas
An outbreak of cholera has killed its first victims in the Republic of Congo's capital - after 80 deaths in the port of Pointe-Noire this year.

Official figures show four deaths and 10 cases - mainly in Brazzaville's densely populated southern suburbs.

There are fears the disease could spread quickly, overwhelming ill-prepared medical services, says the BBC's John James in Brazzaville.

The outbreak began in November but cholera was only confirmed last month.

The head of the infectious diseases unit at a hospital in Makelekele, in southern Brazzaville warned that they were not ready to treat an outbreak.

"We have just six beds located in just one room where we're isolating the sick - even the personnel currently caring for these cases have not been trained to deal with this situation," says Doctor Guy-Serge Mahoungou.

"We've never had this disease here. We follow what we read in the health manuals, but we're not really ready."

People with the slightest symptoms of diarrhoea are being told to go immediately to the main hospitals and the government says all treatment will be free of charge.

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres is on standby to offer isolation tents should the outbreak spread.

Medical notes: Cholera
08 May 03 |  Medical notes

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