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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (January 3, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Health officials in the Marshall Islands now fear a cholera outbreak on Ebeye, Kawajelien Atoll may spread to the other islands.

So far, five people have died and more than 200 have been admitted to the hospital.

The outbreak of cholera in the Marshalls follows a similar epidemic in the neighboring Federated States of Micronesia two months ago.

Donald Capelle, Secretary of Health, said he expects the outbreak will spread, despite an intense education program now under way.

"We'll have to mobilize and go by plane and make sure that medical supplies, like antibiotics, are available on the islands. So we are bracing ourselves for that and preparing for the worst," he said.



By Adrienne Loerzel

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (January 3, 2001 – Pacific Daily News)---One more person has died from cholera in the Marshall Islands, but officials said the number of cholera cases has dropped.

Health Secretary Donald Capelle said 224 patients from Ebeye have been seen for cholera symptoms, while six people have died from the bacterial disease since mid-December.

"The situation out in Ebeye, it seems like it's getting better," Capelle said. "In the last three days, there was only one admission."

The Marshalls' first cholera epidemic began when a case was confirmed last month on Ebeye, an island in Kwajalein Atoll.

Capelle said health workers are trying to keep the disease contained to Ebeye, which has a population of about 10,000.

Cholera is a bacterial disease, usually spread through contaminated food and water. The disease is easily treated with antibiotics and oral or intravenous rehydration solutions, but it may cause fatal dehydration if it is not treated quickly.

Travel from Ebeye to other areas in the Marshalls has been restricted.

To limit the outbreak, health workers have administered vaccine to about 3,000 Ebeye residents, Capelle said.

Health workers gave the vaccine to Ebeye residents who regularly travel to Kwajalein for work and to older or chronically ill residents who might be at risk for the disease, he added.

The vaccine was sent to the Marshalls from Pohnpei, which has been battling a cholera epidemic since April 2000. Pohnpei's outbreak has recently slowed, after causing 19 deaths and sickening more than 3,000 people.

Capelle said the government is especially interested in vaccinating residents of outer islands who don't have quick access to medical care.

"We're asking (the World Health Organization) to provide additional doses of the vaccine to vaccinate those in the outer islands," Capelle said.

The government also has asked for consultants to help laboratory workers on Ebeye improve the lab's ability to identify cholera cases, he added.

For additional reports from the Pacific Daily News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Pacific Daily News (Guam).

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