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South Sudan Suffers New Cholera Outbreak

FILE - A South Sudanese baby suffering from cholera is being attended by medics in Juba Teaching Hospital in Juba, May 27, 2014.

South Sudan has declared a cholera outbreak following the deaths of 18 people and at least 170 recorded cases in recent days.

South Sudan's Minister of Health Riek Gai Kok told reporters the outbreak began in crowded United Nations refugee camps in the capital, Juba, where tens of thousands of people have sought shelter from civil war.

Kok said the first case was recorded on June 1.

Cholera is a fast-acting bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and severe dehydration that can be fatal if not treated promptly.

It is transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food. It poses particular problems in refugee camps, where meals and facilities are shared among many people.

Previous outbreak

South Sudan suffered a cholera outbreak last year, in which at least 167 people died out of more than 6,400 reported cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Government officials said they are better prepared for such an outbreak this year because of preemptive measures taken between the two outbreaks.

South Sudan's Health Ministry is advising its people to wash hands with soap or ash after using toilets or latrines, before handling food, and after eating. It also says to boil drinking water or disinfect it with chlorine.

More than 2 million people been forced to flee during the war, with more than 137,000 civilians sheltering in U.N. peacekeeping bases, including over 34,000 civilians crammed into camps in the capital alone.

Two-thirds of the country's 12 million people need aid, with 4.5 million people facing severe food insecurity, the U.N. said.

The country descended into civil war in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup.

Some material for this report came from AFP.

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