1 Sep 2009

WHO working with PNG authorities to combat cholera outbreak

2:02 pm on 1 September 2009

The World Health Organisation says its working with local health authorities to combat Papua New Guinea's first cholera outbreak in more than 40 years.

At least 5 people have died and more than 80 have contracted the water borne disease in two coastal villages in Morobe Province.

It comes as health authorities are dealing with a separate outbreak of dysentry and influenza that's killed at least 48 people.

The WHO's representative in PNG, Dr Eigil Sorenson says his organisation is working with the Department of Health in the field to ensure the water supply and sanitation are adequate, and to tell people how to treat cholera.

"That they know what to do if they get watery diarrhoea. I mean one of the characteristics of cholera is that the symptoms develop very fast so that people need to get dehydration therapy, about 80 percent can be managed by oral rehydration, using for example what we call oral rehydration salt, and some people need IV fluids."

Dr Sorenson says the WHO is assisting the Department of Health with supplies, and trying to make sure its following international best practice to manage a cholera outbreak.