A cholera outbreak has been given epidemic status at a displaced persons camp in the northeastern Ituri region as the death toll reached 20 from the 430 people suffering from the it, UN officials confirmed here on Monday.
"The epidemic was officially declared in the district by Congolese health authorities," Modibo Traore, of Democratic Republic of Congo's UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told AFP.
The first case was registered March 26 and charity group Medecins sans frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) said on Friday there had been 110 cases with three deaths at that time.
All but one of the dead had been at the Kafe camp, on the shores of Lake Albert, which holds about 25,000 displaced people.
MSF has opened a cholera centre there and at two other camps in the region.
"Hygiene measures have been reinforced in the camps where Congolese soldiers acting as security there are amongst the victims, one of whom has died at Kafe," Traore said.
"Distribution of drinking water and soap are being organised, as are instructions on the safe use of toilets and water consumption," he added.
MSF said on Friday they expected the epidemic to peak within two weeks and that the incubation period was between five and seven days.
OCHA reported 77 new cases on Sunday.
Thousands of the UN troops serve in Ituri close to the Ugandan border -- where armed ethnic and political militias have maintained high levels of unrest and forced scores of thousands of people to abandon their villages -- as well as in provinces further south where tensions remain high.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.