Cholera kills 12 in south Russia

MOSCOW (Reuter) - A cholera outbreak in southern Russia has killed 12 people and cases have been reported in other areas, Itar-Tass news agency said.

The Russian Health Ministry said three people had fallen ill with the disease in Dagestan, a semi-autonomous republic in northern Caucasus, within 24 hours. Cholera cases have also been reported from other Russian regions, most of them involving people who live in or have visited Dagestan.

Two cases of cholera have been reported in the Kazakh capital Alma-Ata and the cholera virus has been found in a river winding through the city, Health Ministry officials said. They said the disease first appeared in Kazakhstan on 21 July, when two cases were reported in the southern city of Chimkent. They said cholera had been brought to Kazakhstan by travellers from the Indian subcontinent.

On Saturday, Tass said 11 people in Russia had died of cholera. One person has died in Moscow. Dagestan officials have cancelled bus services to neighbouring Azerbaijan and the Chechen republic and limited air and rail services to and from the largely Muslim region. The government has allocated 800m roubles ( pounds 250m) to stop the disease spreading.

Cases of infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid and diphtheria have become common in Russia due to a breakdown in the public health care system and worsening sanitary conditions.