GENEVA (Reuters) - Cholera has killed 15 people and made 547 sick in Zambia's capital Lusaka and the rising caseload is expected to grow further as the rainy season starts, according to the World Health Organization.
The outbreak began on Sept. 28 but appeared to die down by Oct 20, with fewer than five patients reported weekly until Nov. 5. But then the number of cases surged, with 136 in the week beginning Nov. 26.
The main affected areas are the densely populated districts of Lusaka, Chipata and Kanyama, where poor sanitation may favour the spread of the disease, WHO said late on Monday.
"The coming of the rainy season, coupled with inadequate water supply and sanitation, increases the risk of outbreaks in Lusaka and other parts of the country," WHO said.
There is also a high risk of disease outbreaks in Zambia's Nchelenge refugee camp, which is more than 1,000 km from Lusaka, and holds more than 60,000 refugees, mainly from Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also suffering a cholera outbreak.
Cholera is spread by ingesting faecal matter and causes acute watery diarrhoea. Although most sufferers have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can be treated with oral rehydration solution, the disease spreads rapidly and can kill within hours if not treated.
(Reporting by Tom Miles Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)