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Nigeria: Cholera kills 231 people

A cholera outbreak in north-eastern Nigeria has killed 231 people this year across 11 states and infected more than 4,500 others, the country’s chief epidemiologist said on Friday.

Neighbouring Cameroon has been suffering its worst epidemic of cholera, a disease generally spread through food and water contaminated with bacteria, since 2004 and there had been fears that the outbreak could spread into Nigeria and Chad.

“Recent cases are mainly from the north-eastern part of the country,” said Dr Henry Akpan, head of epidemiology in Nigeria’s ministry of health, adding that 4,665 cases had been recorded in Africa’s most populous nation since January.

Nigeria is also fighting a measles epidemic. The disease, characterised by a high temperature and red spots on the body, has killed more than 1,400 people in Africa this year in some of the most serious outbreaks seen for a decade.

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said Nigeria had confirmed 4,771 cases in 2010, a ten-fold increase on the same period last year. He said government would provide 2.1 billion naira of vaccines and syringes to combat the epidemic.