SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq (AFP) — Six people have died of cholera in northern Iraq's Kurdish province of Sulaimaniyah, as health authorities treat some 2,000 suspected cases, an official said Thursday.
"In the past two weeks six people have died of cholera and we are treating about 2,000 people showing symptoms of the disease," Shirko Abdullah, director of the Sulaimaniyah health directorate, told to AFP.
He said on Tuesday 250 people showing symptoms of cholera -- vomiting and diarrhoea -- were admitted to hospitals in Sulaimaniyah, followed by another 102 people on Wednesday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva has described the situation as a "major epidemic".
"We have found two sources of the epidemic, one at Sulaimaniyah and the other at Kirkuk," an official responsible for cholera at WHO told AFP.
"Thirty-five cases have already been confirmed on the ground by local laboratories," the official added.
"The main reason is poor water quality," Abdullah said.
Most of those being admitted to hospital were in fact not suffering from cholera, he added.
"The Sulaimaniyah hospitals are treating diarrhoea cases -- but not all diarrhoea cases are cholera cases. We are taking all precautions in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease."
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