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Black Fever Outbreak Threatens Iraq - 2003-05-29


As rebuilding efforts continue in Iraq there are more problems. UNICEF has announced an outbreak of black fever in Iraq – a potentially lethal disease. Brian Purchia has more.

According to the Iraqi Refugee aid council, more than 200 cases of the disease have been reported across the country this year.

The disease, which is transmitted through the bite of a sand fly, attacks the liver and spleen, causing irregular bouts of fever and substantial weight loss. When left untreated, it is almost always fatal.

Black fever outbreaks in Iraq are not unheard of, but the situation this year is much worse then in years past. UNICEF’s Geoffrey Keele:

GEOFFREY KEELE, UNICEF
"With the war on, in the lead up to the sand fly season, there was no spraying. They didn't have the insecticides. The government was collapsing, so there was nobody to control the spray of the areas where the sand flies traditionally bite the children and spread the disease, so as a result we are seeing what we call an epidemic spike in black fever."

Black fever is especially deadly for children already weakened by diarrhea and under-nourishment. Dr. Nadhim Mohammed has treated many patients.

DR. NADHIM MOHAMMED
"Today, there is a patient who before few hours had died because of delay of the treatment."

UNICEF procured 1,000 doses of a drug to treat the disease in February, when the first hundred cases were reported. But the coalition bombing campaign began before the medication could be delivered.

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