"Sierra Leone's health ministry said Thursday that deaths from a cholera outbreak had reached 220, affecting over 12,000 people in the west African nation, which is struggling to curb the disease," Agence France-Presse reports. "'Some 12,140 people are affected nationwide in 10 of 12 districts,' the health ministry's director of disease prevention and control, Amara Jambai, told journalists, saying the figure included cases recorded up to Wednesday," the news service writes (8/23). "Early rains together with increasing overcrowding in cities such as the Sierra Leonian capital Freetown have pushed the number of reported cases ... well past the previous record of 10,000 in 1994," Reuters notes.
"Sierra Leone's worst recorded outbreak of cholera risks sparking a wider health crisis unless its causes can be tackled more aggressively, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said on Thursday," the news service writes, adding, "The death toll in Sierra Leone is likely to rise further in coming weeks towards the late-September peak of the rainy season" (Akam, 8/23). "The water-borne disease is also sweeping through neighboring Guinea and has been recorded in other countries in West Africa," AFP notes in a separate video report (8/23). "Some 82 deaths have been reported in neighboring Guinea, while other cases have been seen in Mali and Niger," according to the Associated Press/Seattle Times (8/23).