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At least six dead in cholera outbreak near Baghdad

Displaced populations in Iraq have been affected by the lack of clean water
(AFP/Wissam al-Okaili
Disease thought to have been contracted by displaced Iraqis drinking Euphrates water

A suspected cholera outbreak has killed six people west of Baghdad, where vulnerable displaced populations have been affected by the lack of clean water, health officials said Saturday.

The health ministry strongly suspects the deaths, which occurred in the Abu Ghraib area near Baghdad, were the result of a cholera outbreak first reported a week earlier.

"Last week, we announced that there 12 cases of cholera in Abu Ghraib and Najaf," health ministry spokesman Rifaq al-Araji said, referring to the holy Shiite city south of the capital.

"Since then, other cases have appeared in Abu Ghraib, and the reason is water that is not suitable for drinking," he said.

"Some people are drinking directly from the (Euphrates) river and the wells. The river water is polluted because the level is too low," Araji explained.

He said the minister had visited the hospital in Abu Ghraib, and that more medical staff were dispatched to the area and a crisis cell set up to deal with the outbreak.

The latest confirmed cholera outbreak in Iraq killed four people in 2012 in the northern autonomous region of Kurdistan.

After a short incubation period of two to five days, cholera causes severe diarrhoea, draining the body of its water.

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