cholera bacteria (source:

At least 40 people have died and 2,000 fallen ill in Papua New Guinea’s first cholera outbreak in 50 years, according to information from the World Health Organization. The Associated Press reports that the epidemic is so far not contained and poses a difficult problem for the health care system of this poverty-stricken Pacific nation.

The outbreak started in July in northeastern Morobe province, according to Enoch Posamai, executive manager of the country’s Public Health Department. The disease was first reported in temporary settlements around the provincial capital of Lae, and then spread to neighboring provinces, where remote villages are now seeing cases.

–Associated Press

Cholera is a water-born bacterial disease that spreads in areas with poor sanitation. It causes severe diarrhea resulting in dehydration. The New York Times Health Guide on cholera states that the goal of the disease’s treatment is to ‘replace fluid and electrolytes lost through diarrhea.’

The Oceanic nation of Papua New Guinea lies north of Australia and borders the Indonesian province of West Papua, with which it shares the island of New Guinea. It is not yet known what caused the outbreak.

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