The World Health Organization warned Thursday of a possible cholera epidemic in this southern Iraqi city, where 17 suspected cases have been reported in two hospitals since April 28.
“Due to the current security situation and difficulties experienced in restoring safe water supplies to the population, a larger cholera epidemic is predicted,” the WHO said.
“According to the initial laboratory analysis in Basra, cholera is highly probable,” said the agency, which was awaiting more test results. Staffers set up a surveillance system and were looking at other hospitals’ cases.
The agency has reported that doctors in Basra say there could be dozens more cases because of contaminated water supplies and poor sanitation.
“Sewage is not being disposed of, garbage collection is happening intermittently or not at all and people are using water from the polluted Shatt al Arab river,” the WHO said Wednesday.