Iraqi health officials say an outbreak of cholera has killed at least five people in Babil province in recent days.

Officials say the waterborne disease has infected at least 36 other people in the area, south of Baghdad.  Some reports say it is suspected of infecting hundreds of people.

On Monday, local officials in Babil province declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak.

Cholera causes severe diarrhea, which can lead to fatal dehydration in extreme cases.  The disease typically is spread through contaminated water.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.