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Cholera death toll 500 & 10,000 victims

AAP - NEARLY 500 people have died in PNG’s prolonged cholera outbreak, Health Secretary Dr Clement Malau says.

Dr Malau said 483 people have died while 10,066 have been diagnosed with cholera since the first outbreak in September 2009.

Seven of PNG's 19 provinces, including Port Moresby, have been affected. Dr Malau said Western Province was the worst hit, with 300 deaths.

"I am urging the provinces to sustain the response momentum and widen surveillance and awareness activities," he said.

"I appeal again to local authorities at the district and provincial levels to respond effectively to the cholera outbreaks in their areas".

In December last year, there were grave concerns that cholera would spread across the Torres Strait to Australia when it was detected in Western Province.

Travel between the Torres Strait Islands and neighbouring PNG communities was restricted, with hundreds of people turned away in an effort to contain the potentially deadly outbreak.

The initial poor response and lack of funding by the PNG government have been blamed for cholera spreading throughout the country.

Australia provided $1.7 million in assistance including supplies of intravenous fluids, oral salts and water purification tablets, as well as emergency experts being flown to outbreak centres.

Cholera is transmitted by water or food contaminated by bacteria from an infected person.


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