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Diarrhea Outbreak in Ethiopia Claims Almost 200


Close to 200 people are believed to have died from a diarrhea outbreak in Ethiopia made worse by recent floods that contaminated wells and rivers.

A program coordinator at the Ethiopia office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, John Manley, tells VOA recent floods in Ethiopia exacerbated the earlier outbreak of acute watery diarrhea.

"We have a lot of contamination of wells. We have a more difficult sanitation problem because in some cases, the people would not leave their lands but they are essentially living in mud and areas where you have no natural filtration anymore," he said. "So those sorts of things will facilitate the spread of diarrhea."

But Manley was quick to point out that the August floods, which killed hundreds, played a small role in the outbreak.

"While there was exacerbation by the flood, the incidences of acute watery diarrhea are not necessarily coincident with the flooded areas, and in some areas they're in areas that haven't received any flooding at all, totally dry areas," added Manley. "So it's a different problem from the flood and is going to require quite a bit of work I'm afraid."

According to the U.N. children's agency, the outbreak was first reported in April.

A September 19 report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that some 182 people have died from the outbreak and more than 19,000 have been infected with the condition.

Five regions have been affected by the outbreak, which has spread to the capital, Addis Ababa.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Manley tells VOA that the Somali region of Ethiopia has been the latest to be hit by the disease. He says he fears the outbreak could spread into Somalia if not contained.

Manley says there have also been many cases of cholera being reported.

Central to the spread of acute watery diarrhea is the lack of clean drinking water, often contaminated by sewage.