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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Cholera death toll in India rises
By Sanjaya Jena
Bhubaneswar, Orissa

A cholera patient in Orissa
Officials say the disease is spreading Pics: Pramod Samantray
The death toll from an outbreak of cholera in the eastern Indian state of Orissa has risen to 115, officials say.

Thirty-five people have died of the disease in three tribal districts in the past two days, they added.

The outbreak has affected Rayagada, Koraput and Kalahandi districts where more than 2,000 people have been admitted to hospitals, officials say.

Doctors say contaminated food and water are to blame for the epidemic.

Unofficial sources say the death toll could be higher than 200.

Hot zone

The cholera epidemic started from Kashipur, in Rayagada district, nearly 310 miles (500km) from the state capital, Bhubaneswar.

A senior health official in the district said at least 64 people had died there.

Orissa's disease surveillance unit says cholera-related deaths have been reported from outside the three tribal districts.

A cholera patient being taken to hospital in Orissa
The patients are being treated at government hospitals.

The disease, which was initially suspected to be diarrhoea, was confirmed to be cholera by the microbiology department of MKCG Hospital in Berhampur and Regional Research Laboratory in Bhubaneswar.

Health officials said microbiological tests conducted on 43 samples collected from patients in the affected villages had revealed the presence of the cholera virus in at least 31 cases.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the affected people were being treated by special medical teams at various government hospitals.

He said instructions had been given to district administrations in the region to disinfect all water sources.

Consumption of contaminated water and rotten food by the people is suspected to have led to the epidemic.

The areas affected by the cholera outbreak are in the Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region - some of the most economically backward districts in the country.

Most of the victims are believed to be tribes people, say officials.

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