Left: Angolan medical personnel transport a cholera victim
(Luanda, Angola) The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Angola has reached 1,109, according to government officials.
More than 26,000 people have become ill with cholera since the outbreak was reported in mid-February. This particular epidemic seems to have an unusually high mortality rate, and some experts predict that a quarter-million or more people may ultimately be infected with Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium responsible for the disease.
Overcrowding and poor sanitation in the country's urban slums - which are inhabited in large part by people who were displaced during the country's 27-year civil war - have helped the disease to quickly spread.
Ten out of 18 provinces are fighting the epidemic that has left 26,176 people ill and claimed 1,069 lives, according to figures from the WHO released on Thursday.
The NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), calls the situation a "national emergency," and confirms much of the WHO data.
Cholera causes massive, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not given promptly. The most important considerations in treating cholera are rehydration and replenishment of electrolytes.
WHO statistics demonstrate that between 25 and 50 percent of cholera cases are fatal if not treated properly, but that adequate medical care can reduce the mortality rate to between one and two percent.
The mortality rate of the Angolan epidemic is 5.1 percent, several times higher than most other regions prone to cholera outbreaks.