The World Health Organization says Iraqi authorities are coping with an outbreak of nearly 7,000 suspected cholera cases in Iraq's northern provinces.

A spokeswoman for the Geneva-based agency Fadela Chaib said Tuesday the precise source of the outbreak has not been identified, but that health authorities suspect polluted water.

The United Nations agency said in a statement that laboratory tests have confirmed some 290 cholera cases.

The most affected provinces are Sulaimaniya, Kirkuk and Irbil. Provincial authorities have chlorinated public water supply systems and undertaken other measures to contain the outbreak.

International aid agencies, including Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross and UNICEF have joined efforts to respond to the outbreak.

The World Health Organization is not recommending any special travel or trade restrictions for the affected region.

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