Cholera Outbreak Grips Baghdad

Officials fear an epidemic when rains hit war-ravaged sewers
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2007 7:40 PM CST
Majida Hamid Ibrahim, 40, the first confirmed case of Cholera in the Iraqi capital, is seen in al-Sadr hospital in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq in this Friday, Sept. 20, 2007,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Cholera cases have spiked in Baghdad since mid-November and will likely soar when rainy season comes, the Guardian reports. Officials fear that the downpours will spread dirty water from war-ravaged sewers and infect more Iraqis, particularly children; about 4,500 cases have already been tallied this year. “We have a catastrophe in Baghdad,” one Iraqi official said.

UNICEF is giving families rehydration salts and water purification pills, as well as clean water, to stem infection rates; it also urged Baghdad to clean water storage tanks. But most sewage companies won't work in violent areas, and even hospitals lack clean water. "Pollution of waterways by raw sewage is perhaps the greatest environmental and public health hazard facing Iraqis—particularly children," a UNICEF spokeswoman said.