KINSHASA, 27 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - At least 34 people have died from cholera in areas along Lake Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a senior health official in the affected province said on Thursday. Another 2,152 people have been infected in the cholera outbreak, which began in early January, Dr Guyslain Bisimwa, medical inspector for South Kivu Province, told IRIN.
"The epidemic continues to advance although we are still waiting for statistics," he said, adding that the Fizi area was the worst affected, with 19 deaths so far.
South Kivu's deputy governor, Didas Kaningini Kyoto, who described the outbreak as "serious and spreading" said the affected areas included the localities of Mwenga - where 12 deaths had been reported - Uvira, Kabare, Nyangezi, Katudu, Kamituga and the provincial capital, Bukavu.
Health and humanitarian agencies have been helping the affected population, Jean-Marc Cordaro, who heads UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Bukavu, said. Hospitals have been providing free medical care, while the public was being informed on measures to curtail or prevent infection.
Cordaro said the fact that the supply of potable water in Bukavu had been interrupted for three days last week, and that sewage had mixed with the water supply, had contributed to the spread of the disease. "Cholera is endemic to the region, but this time around we are facing one of the deadliest outbreaks," he said.
Deputy Governor Kyoto said heavy rains in the province from 2 to 4 January had swept the town's garbage into Lake Kivu, which residents use for drinking as well as washing. The rains, he said, had also destroyed at least 800 homes in Uvira.