Cholera epidemic kills 800 people

The worst cholera epidemic in Nigeria in 19 years has killed nearly 800 people in two months. The disease is also spreading to Cameroon, Chad and Niger, where it has killed hundreds of others.

The current outbreak began during the summer, and was initially concentrated in Nigeria's northern states. Since then it has began to spread to neighbouring countries: Chad has reported more than 40 deaths, while 300 people have died from the disease in Cameroon. Cholera, which is spread by drinking contaminated water, is a recurring problem in districts with poor sanitation: more than half Nigeria's 150 million people lack access to clean drinking water. This year's rainy season produced floods which made water sources particularly susceptible to contamination. Nigeria last saw an outbreak on a comparable scale in 1991, when 7,654 people died, the World Health Organisation said.