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Mali: preventing the spread of cholera near Gao

05-07-2012 News Release 12/137

Geneva/Niamey (ICRC) – Since Monday 2 July, 32 cases of cholera have been identified in the village of Wabaria, situated along the Niger River near Gao in northern Mali.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stepped in immediately with support for a treatment centre set up on the spot by the health authorities to prevent the disease from spreading. Two people have already died from the cholera, but the situation now appears to be under control.

"On Wednesday, we identified seven new cases of cholera in the village – half as many as the day before – and no new deaths," said Annick Hamel, the ICRC's medical coordinator for Mali and Niger. "This is a positive development, but the population needs to remain vigilant and adhere to recommended hygiene measures." Cholera is caused by a bacterium that spreads through ingestion of contaminated water and as a result of insufficient hygiene, among other things.

The ICRC provided the treatment centre with intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts, doxycycline, other medications and medical supplies, bottled water, hygiene products and sanitizers. It is now considering the possibility of providing the centre with greater quantities of clean drinking water and with chlorine, and of restoring a pump in the village to working order.

Local radio stations have begun to broadcast warning messages and recommendations, and Mali Red Cross volunteers are going door to door to distribute treatment products and water.

The ICRC is monitoring information concerning any new cases of cholera occurring elsewhere in Mali or in neighbouring Niger.

For further information, please contact:
Germain Mwehu, ICRC Niamey, tel: +227 97 45 43 82
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 20 11 or +41 79 536 92 50